Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Active genes discovered in the developing mammal brain

15.07.2009
A study by scientists at Penn State provides new information about the genes that are involved in a mammal's early brain development, including those that contribute to neurological disorders.

The study is the first to use high-throughput sequencing to uncover active genes in developing brains, and it is likely the best evidence thus far for the activity in the brain of such a large number of genes.

The research results one day could lead to the development of drugs or gene therapies that treat neurological disorders such as autism and mental retardation. The research, which was led by Distinguished Professor of Biology Hong Ma and Associate Professor of Biology Gong Chen, will be published online in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sometime during the week of 13 July 2009.

In this study, the team used a high-throughput technique to sequence millions of messenger-RNA molecules, which carry genetic information from DNA molecules to protein molecules. The researchers obtained the RNA from the brains of mice, which are an important model system for studying human biology. They found that over 16,000 genes -- more than half of the mouse's entire set of known genes -- are involved in the brain's development and functions. "The brain represents one of the most, if not the most, complex organs in a mammal's body," said Ma. "So we weren't surprised to find that the number of genes that are active in the brain is so high."
The researchers focused on two critical times during the development of a mouse's brain: embryonic day 18 (E18) and post-natal day 7 (P7). "These two time points represent major milestones during brain formation," said Ma. "Brain development in an 18-day-old embryo involves a significant amount of brain cells, or neurons. In contrast, brain development in a seven-day-old infant involves the formation of numerous connections between these neurons. Our goal was to determine which genes are active during these two critical times."

The scientists examined genes that correspond to the RNA molecules from the cortex of a mouse. "The cortex is the surface portion of the large brain that is responsible for most cognitive and sensory abilities," said Ma. The team found that over 3,700 of the 16,000 genes that they had identified have different levels of activity between the E18 and P7 time points. "This differential activity tells us about the differences in the brain at these two stages," said Ma. "For example, the genes that are active at E18, but not at P7, probably are important during E18. We get some support for this notion when we see that certain genes that already are known to be involved in cell division are actively expressed during E18, while other genes that are known to play a role in building the connections between neurons are much more active at P7."

Some of the genes that the researchers found in mice are known to be matched to the human genes that are involved in neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, autism, and some forms of mental retardation. "Our results can help to pinpoint the specific time during brain development when the genes related to certain diseases are active," said Ma. "This knowledge may help other scientists to develop drugs or gene therapies that can treat the diseases. For example, if a particular gene defect causes poorly constructed connections between certain neurons, a drug might be developed that enhances those connections to compensate for the gene defect."

Ma said his future research plans include looking at some of the genes to see whether they are important for the brain to be formed properly. Chen plans to investigate, specifically, how genes function in development disorders of the brain. This research was supported by Penn State, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.

[ Sara LaJeunesse ]

CONTACTS
Hong Ma: (+1) 814-863-6414, hxm16@psu.edu
Gong Chen: gongchen@psu.edu
Barbara Kennedy (PIO): (+1) 814-863-4682, science@psu.edu

Barbara K. Kennedy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu
http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/MaChen7-2009.htm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>