Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rare childhood bone disorder linked to gene deletion in two Navajo patients

18.07.2002

Two seemingly unrelated Native American children have one painful thing in common: juvenile Paget’s disease (JPD), an extremely rare, bone metabolism disorder. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Shriners Hospitals for Children, St. Louis, have discovered that the two patients also share an unusual genetic defect. The research team found that both patients are completely missing the gene for a recently discovered protein called osteoprotegerin, known to protect bone. The study is the first to identify a genetic cause for JPD and is published in the July 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"By identifying this genetic defect in two people, our results not only provide insight into the cause of JPD, but also shed light on the control of bone metabolism in general," says lead investigator Michael P. Whyte, M.D., professor of medicine, genetics, and pediatrics at the School of Medicine and director of the Center for Metabolic Bone Disease and Molecular Research at Shriners Hospitals for Children. "Understanding how the skeleton forms and breaks down is key to developing ways to diagnose and treat bone disorders in children and adults, including adult Paget’s disease and osteoporosis."

JPD, also known as hereditary hyperphosphatasia or hyperostosis corticalis deformans juvenilis, has only been reported in about 40 people worldwide. It is a painful skeletal disease characterized by abnormally fast formation and breakdown of bone throughout the body, resulting in debilitating fractures and deformities beginning soon after birth. These features are similar to the much more common adult disease called Paget’s disease of bone, the second most prevalent metabolic bone disorder after osteoporosis. However, JPD appears to affect all bones in the body, whereas Paget’s disease of bone involves only a select few.

The Washington University and Shriners team examined DNA samples from two Native Americans. The first was referred to St. Louis from New Mexico in 1996 for confirmation of diagnosis and treatment at one year of age. The team later learned that a second JPD patient, described in the medical literature in 1979, also was living in New Mexico. The second patient contacted the investigators and voluntarily sent her blood samples for genetic study.

The team first evaluated the gene for RANK in these two patients. In a previous collaborative study, they had identified a RANK defect as the cause of three other rare but somewhat similar genetic bone disorders also characterized by accelerated bone metabolism. The two Navajo patients, however, had normal RANK genes.

The researchers next tested the gene that makes osteoprotegerin, a protein discovered only a few years ago. Osteoprotegerin is related functionally to RANK and recent studies have found that mice lacking the protein have a condition where bone formation and breakdown is rapid, seemingly similar to osteoporosis.

The results were surprising. Neither patient had any trace of the gene for osteoprotegerin.

"At first we thought there must be something wrong with our DNA studies," says Steven Mumm, Ph.D., research assistant professor of medicine at the School of Medicine and one of the lead investigators of the study. "Instead, we realized this was a major finding."

Genetic analysis of healthy individuals confirmed the expected presence of two copies, or alleles, of the gene for osteoprotegerin. However, analysis of the JPD patients’ healthy parents revealed that each had only one copy of the gene. Furthermore, no osteoprotegerin was found in the blood of the two patients with JPD. The researchers conclude that these results provide both a cause and a mechanism for this rare bone disease, at least for these two Native Americans.

Thanks to simultaneous advances in the Human Genome Project, centered in part at Washington University, the team was able to pinpoint exactly where DNA had broken off in these two patients.

Again, the results were startling: The genetic damage was identical in both patients. The researchers therefore conclude that these two patients likely share a common ancestor, perhaps dating back a century.

"In a way, this also is a sociology story," says Whyte. "Our findings appear to represent the emergence of a "founder effect" in this population that underwent a "bottleneck" constriction years ago. The Navajo Nation decreased from about several hundred thousand individuals to about 6 thousand in the 1860s. As the population then re-grew, the missing gene apparently was passed on to their offspring. Eventually, people with only one copy of the osteoprotegerin gene married and had children with no copies of the gene."

The team now is evaluating other patients worldwide with varying forms of JPD, who so far do not appear to have any defects in the osteoprotegerin gene.

According to Whyte, this research will not only enable prenatal diagnosis for JPD in the Navajo population, but also suggests that osteoprotegerin may be a potential treatment for these affected individuals. They also expect their findings to help elucidate the role of osteoprotegerin and other key proteins in bone formation and breakdown, shedding light on Paget’s disease of bone, osteoporosis and other common metabolic bone disorders.

Gila Z. Reckess | EurekAlert

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Correct connections are crucial
26.06.2017 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>