Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

mRNA methylation: A novel mechanistic link between stress regulation and psychiatric disorders

07.08.2018

It is well established that stress can alter the activation pattern of our genes. Stress also triggers epigenetic mechanisms which modulate how DNA, the carrier of genetic information, is read. The genetic information on the DNA is in the next step ‘translated’ into RNA, which is the blueprint of proteins. In a groundbreaking study, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry (MPI) have shown for the first time that stress can also cause similar “epigenetic” changes on the RNA level. The research results were recently published in the internationally renowned journal Neuron.

It was recently rediscovered that RNA can be modified by chemical tags in a similar way to the epigenetic modifications seen on DNA. Messenger RNA (mRNA) is made up of four molecular building blocks: adenosine, cytidine, guanosine and uridine, which can be modified by the attachment of chemical tag. These tags or RNA modifications provide a sophisticated extra layer of gene regulation.


mRNA methylation is involved in stress response regulation and the etiology of stress-induced psychiatric disorders

© MPI of Psychiatry / Tal Bigdary, Graphics Department, WIS, 2018

A modification of mRNA, which occurs post-transcriptionally is methylation of adenosine and the most abundant is N6-methyladenosine (m6A). Although m6A was first described in 1974, recent technological advances were necessary before more detailed analyses of the epitranscriptome could be carried out.

Scientists at the MPI have been investigating the role of m6A methylation in the brain. Their finding show that m6A is involved in the regulation of the stress response and that methylation varies depending on when and where it is in the brain.

Alon Chen, Director at the Institute and head of the project explains: “Increasing evidence suggests that the fine-tuning seen with mRNA methylation may underlie the etiology of psychiatric disorders. We think that elucidating the role of mRNA methylation in regulating brain function will help us to better understand psychiatric disorders.”

By specifically deleting enzymes involved in m6A methylation from adult neurons in a mouse model, the team were able to investigate the roles of these enzymes in the brain. Deletion of METTL3 reduced m6A, whereas FTO deletion increased m6A. They also found that deleting these enzymes changes the way that the mice cope with stress: the enzymes are needed in the generation of fear memory and are involved in synaptic plasticity.

In the final part of the study, the scientists compared blood samples from patients with depression to healthy volunteers. “What was really interesting was that when we looked at the m6A signature in the blood following activation of stress system, we found that its dynamics were altered in patients with depression” says Elisabeth Binder, Director at the Institute and a collaborator on this study.

Alon concludes “These results indicate that m6A contributes to the pathophysiology of stress-related psychiatric disorders and future studies should further explore the role of additional genes and proteins in the RNA methylation machinery and their role in stress response regulation and stress-linked psychopathologies.”

The study is a good example of the main goal of the MPI, which is to lead translational research in psychiatry. Through the uniquely close interaction between basic science, clinical research and clinical services, it is possible to translate the latest findings from the mouse model to humans. Discovering the biological causes of disease will help develop improved, personalized treatment in patients.

Originalpublikation:

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2018.07.009

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.psych.mpg.de/2383747/pm-1805-m6a

Anke Schlee | Max-Planck-Institut für Psychiatrie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea
10.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique
10.12.2018 | Carnegie Mellon University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>