A large, international team of researchers led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco has identified the gene that causes a rare childhood neurological disorder called PKD/IC, or "paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia with infantile convulsions," a cause of epilepsy in babies and movement disorders in older children.
The study involved clinics in cities as far flung as Tokyo, New York, London and Istanbul and may improve the ability of doctors to diagnose PKD/IC, and it may shed light on other movement disorders, like Parkinson's disease.
The culprit behind the disease turns out to be a mysterious gene found in the brain called PRRT2. Nobody knows what this gene does, and it bears little resemblance to anything else in the human genome.
"This is both exciting and a little bit scary," said Louis Ptacek, MD, who led the research. Ptacek is the John C. Coleman Distinguished Professor of Neurology at UCSF and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
Discovering the gene that causes PKD/IC will help researchers understand how the disease works. It gives doctors a potential new way of definitively diagnosing the disease by looking for genetic mutations in the gene. The work may also shed light on other conditions that are characterized by movement disorders, including possibly Parkinson's disease.
"Understanding the underlying biology of this disease is absolutely going to help us understand movement disorders in general," Ptacek said.
About the Disease
PKD/IC strikes infants with epileptic seizures that generally disappear within a year or two. However, the disease often reemerges later in childhood as a movement disorder in which children suffer sudden, startling, involuntary jerks when they start to move. Even thinking about moving is enough to cause some of these children to jerk involuntarily.
The disease is rare, and Ptacek estimates strikes about one out of every 100,000 people in the United States. At the same time, the disease is classified as "idiopathic"—which is just another way of saying we don't really understand it, Ptacek said.
If you take an image of the brain by MRI, patients with the disease all look completely normal. There are no injuries, tumors or other obvious signs that account for the movements—as is often the case with movement disorders. Work with patients in the clinic had suggested a genetic cause, however.
"Sometimes we trace the family tree, and lo and behold, there is a history of it," said Ptacek. In the last several years, he and his colleagues have developed a large cohort of patients whose families have a history of the disease.
The new research was based on a cohort of 103 such families that included one or more members with the disease. Genetic testing of these families led to the researchers to mutations in the PRRT2 gene, which cause the proteins the gene encodes to shorten or disappear entirely in the brain and spinal cord, where they normally reside.
One possible explanation for the resulting neurological symptoms, the researchers found, relates to a loss of neuronal regulation. When the genetic mutations cause the gene products to go missing, the nerve cells where they normally appear may become overly excited, firing too frequently or strongly and leading to the involuntary movements.
The article, "Mutations in the Gene PRRT2 Cause Paroxysmal Kinesigenic Dyskinesia with Infantile Convulsions" by Hsien-Yang Lee, Yong Huang, Nadine Bruneau, Patrice Roll, Elisha D.O. Roberson, Mark Hermann, Emily Quinn, James Maas, Robert Edwards, Tetsuo Ashizawa, Betul Baykan, Kailash Bhatia, Susan Bressman, Michiko K. Bruno, Ewout R. Brunt, Roberto Caraballo, Bernard Echenne, Natalio Fejerman, Steve Frucht, Christina A. Gurnett, Edouard Hirsch, Henry Houlden, Joseph Jankovic, Wei-Ling Lee, David R. Lynch, Shehla Mohammed, Ulrich Meuller, Mark P. Nespeca, David Renner, Jacques Rochette, Gabrielle Rudolf, Shinji Saiki, Bing-Wen Soong, Kathryn J. Swoboda, Sam Tucker, Nicholas Wood, Michael Hanna, Anne M. Bowcock, Pierre Szepetowski, Ying-Hui Fu and Louis J. Ptacek appears in the January 26, 2012 issue of Cell Reports. The article can be accessed online at: http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247%2811%2900006-4
In addition to UCSF, authors on this study are affiliated with the Université de la Méditerranée in Marseille, France; Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, MO; the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL; Istanbul University in Turkey; University College London; Beth Israel Medical Center in New York; the Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, HI; the University of Groningen in the Netherlands; Juan P. Garrahan Pediatric Hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Hôpital Gui de Chauliac in Montpellier, France; Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York; Hôpitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg in France; Baylor College of Medicine in Houston; the National Neuroscience Institute in Singapore; Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Guy's Hospital in London; Justus-Liebig-Universität in Giessen, Germany; Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego; the university of California, San Diego; the University of Utah in Salt Lake City; the Université de Picardie Jules Verne in Amiens, France; Kanazawa Medical University in Ishikawa, Japan; the National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine in Taipei, Taiwan; Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan; the International Paroxysmal Kinesigenic Dyskinesia/Infantile Convulsions Collaborative Working Group; and the Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo.
This work was funded by the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia Parkinson Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Sandler Neurogenetics Fund, ANR, INSERM and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.
Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!
How to design city streets more fairly
18.05.2020 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH
Insects: Largest study to date confirms declines on land, but finds recoveries in freshwater – Highly variable trends
24.04.2020 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Two prominent X-ray emission lines of highly charged iron have puzzled astrophysicists for decades: their measured and calculated brightness ratios always disagree. This hinders good determinations of plasma temperatures and densities. New, careful high-precision measurements, together with top-level calculations now exclude all hitherto proposed explanations for this discrepancy, and thus deepen the problem.
Hot astrophysical plasmas fill the intergalactic space, and brightly shine in stellar coronae, active galactic nuclei, and supernova remnants. They contain...
In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".
Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...
Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...
Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.
When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...
Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.
Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...
19.05.2020 | Event News
07.04.2020 | Event News
06.04.2020 | Event News
02.06.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
02.06.2020 | Architecture and Construction
02.06.2020 | Life Sciences