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 More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>