Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

First ’atlas’ of key brain genes could speed research on cancer, neurological diseases

27.12.2004


Scientists link gene ’switches’ to specific brain locations



Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have compiled the first atlas showing the locations of crucial gene regulators, or switches that determine how different parts of the brain develop – and, in some cases, develop abnormally or malfunction. The scientists say the map will accelerate research on brain tumors and neurological diseases that result from mutations in these switch genes – called "transcription factors." When these genes are altered, the genes they control can go awry, causing abnormalities in the development or function of nerves and related structures.

Although the gene regulators were pinpointed using mouse brains, the map applies to the human brain as well. "This is the first systematic mapping of all of the major brain areas that shows what regulatory genes are expressed in those specific locations," said Quifu Ma, PhD, of Dana-Farber’s Cancer Biology Department. He is senior author of a paper appearing in today’s online issue of the journal Science, along with Charles D. Stiles, PhD, also of Dana-Farber.


Transcription factors are genes that control the expression, or activity, of "target" genes. These factors play a pivotal role in brain development by direction the formation of neurons and supporting cells called glia from uncommitted progenitor cells. Until now, brain transcription factors had not been systematically isolated and their locations within different parts of the brain pinned down.

The map should tell scientists studying different parts of the brain, which transcription factor (TF) genes regulate the development of that brain region, and which of them to investigate as possible causes of brain tumors and other diseases.

The Dana-Farber researchers already have homed in on specific TF genes regulating nerves involved in pain sensation, certain brain tumors, and speech problems caused by abnormally developing motor neurons that control muscles of the tongue.

The map, known as the Mahoney Transcription Factor Atlas, has been placed online where it is freely accessible to researchers studying brain development and disorders. To compile the atlas, the investigators first sifted through databases of information from the Human Genome Project, singling out all genes in the mouse that appeared to be transcription factors: they turned up 1445 of them. Next, they determined that more than 1,000 of these TF’s were expressed in the brains of developing mice. Using genetic probes to investigate thin sections of mouse brains, the scientists found that only 349 of the TF genes were expressed in specific regions, and not throughout the brain, as the majority were. They inferred that these 349 genes, therefore, controlled the development of the particular areas or structures in which they were uniquely expressed.

"This is a manageable subset of transcription factors that are spatially restricted," said Stiles. "This tells you that a particular transcription factor is involved in the formation of some specific kind of cell." Stiles is pursuing TF’s that direct the formation of astrocytes, which are affected in tumors called gliomas. David Rowitch, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber and an author on the paper, studies transcription factors in the brain’s cerebellum, where tumors called medulloblastomas occur, and Ma has identified TF’s that regulate the nerves involved in the sensation of specific types of pain. Ma’s laboratory is focused on the stubborn problem of cancer pain: He and his students are screening the atlas for transcription factors that regulate development of the neurons that generate the severe pain that is a common symptom of metastatic tumors.

Janet Haley-Dubow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.dfci.harvard.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>