Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetic defect found to cause severe epilepsy and mental retardation

13.10.2010
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researcher identifies defect in the 21st amino acid that leads to progressive brain atrophy

A research team at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva, Israel has detected a genetic mutation resulting in a progressive disease of severe mental retardation and epilepsy beginning at infancy. The research was just published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

The team, led by BGU Prof. Ohad Birk of the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev determined that the defect is associated with the production of the 21st amino acid, selenocysteine (SEC), which leads to progressive brain atrophy.

According to Prof. Birk, "One out of every 40 Jews of both Moroccan and Iraqi ancestry may be carriers of this mutation. As the disease is both severe and common, testing for these mutations is expected to become a routine prenatal genetic screening test in these two populations, enabling prevention of future cases."

It is believed that further research will identify other mutations in the same gene as the cause of mental retardation with epilepsy in other communities. As the disease is progressive, elucidation of its molecular mechanisms might open new venues to treatment, preventing disease progression.

The human genetic code, as deciphered some 50 years ago, encodes 20 amino acids which are the building blocks of all proteins in the human body. However, in recent years it became apparent that a 21st amino acid exists: selenium, entering the body in food, is incorporated in the human tissues into what is known as selenocysteine.

This 21st amino acid is unique in that it is encoded by what is normally a stop codon – that is, a DNA sequence that normally instructs the protein building system to end the chain of amino acids, terminating the generated protein. In contrast with most genes, some 25 genes have a unique component that manipulates the stop codon so that instead of terminating the evolving protein chain, it inserts at that point an SEC building block.

The research was conducted by Orly Agamy, a Ph.D. student in Prof. Birk's group and is published this week in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Drs. Bruria Ben Zeev, Tally Sagie, Dorit Lev and Dieter Soll also participated in the study.

The research was funded by the Morris Kahn Family Fund, the Legacy Heritage Fund and the Israel Science Foundation.

For more information, please contact Dr. Ohad Birk, Tel: 972-52-8795930 or obirk@bgu.ac.il

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision, creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel's southern desert, BGU is a university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable development of the Negev. For more information, please visit www.aabgu.org.

Andrew Lavin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.alavin.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>