Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fly mutation suggests link to human brain disease

21.02.2003


Greater insight into human brain disease may emerge from studies of a new genetic mutation that causes adult fruit flies to develop symptoms akin to Alzheimer’s disease.

“This is the first fruit fly mutant to show some of the outward, physical manifestations common to certain major human neurodegenerative diseases,” said principal investigator Michael McKeown, a biology professor at Brown University.

A research team found the mutation in a gene they named “blue cheese.” Reporting in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, the researchers describe blue cheese mutations that lead normal-appearing adult flies (genus Drosophila) to die early from extensive cell death in the brain, neural degeneration, and build-up of protein aggregates.



“These aggregates contain the Drosophila version of proteins that are the major components of plaques that form in the brains of human Alzheimer’s patients,” said the study’s lead author, biologist Kim D. Finley, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. “The presence of these proteins in human plaques is at times used as a diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Genes first identified in Drosophila are often named for a mutant characteristic, said Finley. “The first obvious feature that we noted in older mutant flies was the slow accumulation of dark protein aggregates throughout the brain,” she said. “This reminded us of moldy versions of marbled and veined cheeses, thus the name blue cheese.”

The protein encoded by blue cheese also identifies a new family of proteins present in humans and other vertebrates, as well as in flies, said McKeown. “Our work on blue cheese not only identifies a gene needed for adult neural survival, it also allows identification of the members of this new family,” he said.

Similar blue cheese genes are found in species ranging from worms to humans. The protein encoded by blue cheese – the “blue cheese protein” – may be involved in transport or degradation of proteins and in other brain functions, said the researchers. Fruit flies have similar, yet fewer genes, compared to humans. One of the quickest ways to learn about potential effects of genetic mutations in humans is to screen and sample mutant fly genes.

“Drosophila models have been developed that mimic many aspects of human neural degeneration, primarily by expression of mutant proteins known to cause disease in humans,” said Finley. “In turn these models have been used to identify additional genes involved with the degenerative process, allowing new insights that may result in potential treatments of these disorders.”

In many aspects of gene regulation, growth, differentiation and cell function, Drosophila and human proteins appear very similar and have highly similar actions, said McKeown.

“These observations alone suggest a high likelihood that alterations in human blue cheese will contribute to some degenerative disorders in humans,” he said. In fact, “analysis of the human genetic map shows that blue cheese gene is in a region associated with several familial neurodegenerative diseases,” said McKeown.

For information from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, contact Robert Bradford, senior director for communications, at (858) 453-4100, ext. 1290, or bradford@salk.edu.

The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Scott Turner | Brown University
Further information:
http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/2002-03/02-068.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>