Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Possible susceptibility genes found in neurodegenerative disorder

An international research team, co-led by scientists at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida, have discovered three potential susceptibility genes for development of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare neurodegenerative disease that causes symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease but is resistant to Parkinson's medications. Their report is being published online June 19 in Nature Genetics.

The findings provide a "testable translational hypothesis" as to the development and progression of PSP and may also provide clues into other more common brain disorders brought about by accumulation of tau protein in the brain, researchers say. Those "tauopathies" include some forms of Parkinson's disease, frontotemporal dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and other disorders.

"These are promising gene candidates that may help us understand and potentially treat PSP," says neuropathologist Dennis W. Dickson, M.D., a study co-lead author. "While these findings are surprisingly robust, we are still at the very earliest stages of this work. These are excellent candidate genes, but we have to make sure they are true susceptibility genes."

With 29 institutions represented from the United States and Europe, the study is one of the largest international collaborations to date researching PSP, Dr. Dickson says. It is also one of the largest reports on a pathologically confirmed neurological disorder.

Mayo Clinic's contribution was pivotal, he says. With its focus on movement disorders, Mayo Clinic in Florida is a national center for referral of patients with PSP for diagnosis, treatment, and research. It also has the world's largest collection of brain tissue from PSP patients. The 10-year-old Society for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Brain Bank, established by Dr. Dickson, contains tissue samples from more than 800 patients with PSP. Medical institutions around the country routinely send autopsy tissues to the Mayo PSP brain bank.

Mayo Clinic contributed over 600 of the 1,114 PSP DNA samples used in the first half of the study; the other international institutions contributed the rest.

To search for susceptibility genes, the research team conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS), which examines the differences between the genomes of patients with a certain disease compared to a control group of participants without the disease. This is done by looking at single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, pronounced snips), which are DNA sequence variations that can occur in genes or in the non-coding regions between genes.

Researchers first assessed association between genotypes at 531,451 SNPs in the group of 1,114 PSP DNA samples, and in blood from a control group of 3,247 participants who did not have PSP. The SNPs "hits" they found were then tested in a second group: blood samples from 1,051 living PSP patients and blood from a second group of 3,560 control participants. For that phase of the study, Mayo Clinic in Florida contributed blood from about 200 PSP patients.

In addition to finding that PSP patients had variants in their tau gene, which was expected, the researchers also found the three SNPs that appear to be candidate PSP genes. All three have neurological functions. MOBP is a protein associated with myelin, an insulating material that forms a sheath around the axon of nerves. Glial cells form myelin, and these cells are affected in PSP. STX6 is a gene involved in recycling the membrane of a neuron, and membrane recycling has been implicated in a number of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, according to Dr. Dickson. The third gene, EIF2AK3, is involved in translating RNA to protein, and it signals cells to stop making proteins when abnormal proteins start to accumulate inside cells — as they do in neurons when tau errantly builds up.

Variants in these three genes were also found in the two control populations, but were significantly higher in the PSP patients (both brain samples and PSP blood samples). That suggests these genes do not cause PSP, but contribute to a person's susceptibility to the disease, he says.

"We don't know for sure that these SNPs are precisely at these gene locations," says Dr. Dickson. "If they are real PSP susceptibility genes, we can then zero in on variants that have an impact on the disease, which might then be exploited therapeutically.

"While we are a long way from any new treatment, this new research is exciting for researchers who are dedicated to understanding this tragic disorder."

PSP affects up to 50,000 people in the United States at any given time. It is one-tenth as common as Parkinson's disease.

Also working on this study were neurologists Zbigniew Wszolek, M.D., and Ryan Uitti, M.D., from Mayo Clinic in Florida. The study's co-lead authors are at Philipps-Universität, Marburg, Germany; the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Justus-Liebig-Universität in Giessen, Germany; and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

The study was funded by CurePSP/The Society for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. The Mayo Clinic authors declare no conflicts of interest.

About Mayo Clinic Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit and

Kevin Punsky | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>