Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New function of “kidney-gene”: WT1 plays a role in the central nervous system and controls movement

01.10.2018

The WT1 gene fulfills a central role in the development of a healthy, proper functioning kidney. Mutations in WT1 lead to impairments in kidney development and cause Wilms tumors, a pediatric kidney cancer. Researchers of the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) in Jena have now discovered a further important function of WT1. It is also active outside the kidneys in the central nervous system and is involved in controlling movement. If the gene is missing in the spinal cord, locomotor aberrancies occur. The results have now been published in Life Science Alliance.

Transcription factor WT1 (Wilms tumor 1) has been known for nearly 30 years and it is significantly involved in the development of a healthy and properly functioning kidney. Impairments in the developmental process lead to kidney cancer in children. The gene is also responsible for maintaining kidney function. Recently, even an association between unexplained childlessness and mutations of WT1 has been demonstrated.


Gene WT1 appears also outside of the kidney in the central nervous system, it is needed for neuro specification and locomotor control.

(Picture: Kerstin Wagner / FLI; Source: u.a. http://movie.life-science-alliance.org/video/10.26508/lsa.201800106/video-2, www. panthermedia.net)

Researchers of the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) und the Institute of Zoology and Evolutionary Research of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU) together with colleagues of the University Uppsala, Sweden and the Helmholtz Zentrum München have now discovered another important role of the WT1 gene: It is also active outside the kidney in the central nervous system and is involved in the differentiation of spinal cord neurons that control rhythmic movements. The results have now been published in the journal Life Science Alliance.

“This result was completely surprising for us, because we thought we already knew the WT1 gene quiet well after all those years of research”, tells Prof. Christoph Englert, Group Leader at FLI. “Until now, the Wilms tumor suppressor gene WT1 was known as an important gene for the development and maintenance of various organs, such as kidneys and heart. But it was new to us, that it also influences our movements.” But what function does this gene play in the central nervous system?

Loss of WT1 changes movements

The researchers analyzed in which areas of the spinal cord and brain the WT1 gene is active. They examined mice that lacked the gene. “A loss of the gene changes the motor processes; the mice show problems with the coordination of their legs, which lead to a changes in their walk”, tell Dr. Danny Schnerwitzki, first author of the study.

The intestine, respiration and our walk are controlled and regulated by neural networks that work like circuits. Neurons of the brain and spinal cord are also involved in these processes. “We were able to show that the WT1 gene controls a certain group of neurons that is responsible for locomotion”, says Dr. Schnerwitzki about the results. They show that the development of certain neurons in the spinal cord depends on WT1 expression and that a loss of WT1 is linked to locomotion.

WT1 controls neuron specification

“In a second step, we investigated the development of neurons as a function of WT1 expression and performed locomotion analyses of WT1 knockout mice”, says Prof. Englert. The researchers used molecular biological and electrophysiological approaches as well as a special X-ray method developed at the Institute of Zoology and Evolutionary Research of FSU to visualize changes in locomotion. “Our data indicate that the gene not only contributes to the coordination of locomotion, but is also required for proper differentiation of spinal cord neurons during embryogenesis”, says Englert.

Also in Zebrafish, the researchers found WT1 in neurons of the spinal cord. This indicates that the function of the gene is evolutionarily conserved. In fish, the gene seems to be responsible for controlling their swimming movement.

The study does not only demonstrates the previously undescribed importance of WT1 in the development of spinal cord neurons, but also underlines its role in the circuits responsible for the functional implementation of locomotion in the neurons. “Studying patients with a WT1 mutation could show us what differences in the role of WT1 humans in comparison to the model systems show and uncover its contribution to locomotor changes.”

Publication

Danny Schnerwitzki, Sharn Perry, Anna Ivanova, Fabio V Caixeta, Paul Cramer, Sven Günther, Kathrin Weber, Atieh Tafreshiha, Lore Becker, Ingrid L Vargas Panesso, Thomas Klopstock, Martin Hrabe de Angelis, Manuela Schmidt, Klas Kullander, Christoph Englert. Neuron-specific inactivation of Wt1 alters locomotion in mice and changes interneuron composition in the spinal cord. Life Science Alliance 2018, DOI: 10.26508/lsa.201800106

Videomaterial

X-ray fluoroscopy video shows skeleton of Wt1fl/fl control mouse running on a treadmill.
http://movie.life-science-alliance.org/video/10.26508/lsa.201800106/video-1
X-ray fluoroscopy video shows skeleton of Nes-Cre;Wt1fl/fl mouse running on a treadmill.
http://movie.life-science-alliance.org/video/10.26508/lsa.201800106/video-2
Video shows newborn Wt1fl/fl pup performing air-stepping after tail pinch.
http://movie.life-science-alliance.org/video/10.26508/lsa.201800106/video-3
Video shows newborn Nes-Cre;Wt1fl/fl pup performing air-stepping after tail pinch.
http://movie.life-science-alliance.org/video/10.26508/lsa.201800106/video-4

Contact

Dr. Kerstin Wagner
Press and Public Relations
Phone: 03641-656378, Email: presse@leibniz-fli.de


Background information

The Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) – upon its inauguration in 2004 – was the first German research organization dedicated to research on the process of aging. More than 330 employees from over 30 nations explore the molecular mechanisms underlying aging processes and age-associated diseases. For more information, please visit http://www.leibniz-fli.de.

The Leibniz Association connects 93 independent research institutions that range in focus from the natural, engineering and environmental sciences via economics, spatial and social sciences to the humanities. Leibniz Institutes address issues of social, economic and ecological relevance. They conduct knowledge-driven and applied basic research, maintain scientific infrastructure and provide research-based services. The Leibniz Association identifies focus areas for knowledge transfer to policy-makers, academia, business and the public. Leibniz Institutes collaborate intensively with universities – in the form of “WissenschaftsCampi” (thematic partnerships between university and non-university research institutes), for example – as well as with industry and other partners at home and abroad. They are subject to an independent evaluation procedure that is unparalleled in its transparency. Due to the institutes’ importance for the country as a whole, they are funded jointly by the Federation and the Länder, employing some 19,100 individuals, including 9,900 researchers. The entire budget of all the institutes is approximately 1.9 billion EUR. See http://www.leibniz-association.eu for more information.

Originalpublikation:

Danny Schnerwitzki, Sharn Perry, Anna Ivanova, Fabio V Caixeta, Paul Cramer, Sven Günther, Kathrin Weber, Atieh Tafreshiha, Lore Becker, Ingrid L Vargas Panesso, Thomas Klopstock, Martin Hrabe de Angelis, Manuela Schmidt, Klas Kullander, Christoph Englert. Neuron-specific inactivation of Wt1 alters locomotion in mice and changes interneuron composition in the spinal cord. Life Science Alliance 2018, DOI: 10.26508/lsa.201800106

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.leibniz-fli.de - Website Leibniz Institute on Aging - Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) Jena
http://movie.life-science-alliance.org/video/10.26508/lsa.201800106/video-1
http://movie.life-science-alliance.org/video/10.26508/lsa.201800106/video-2
http://movie.life-science-alliance.org/video/10.26508/lsa.201800106/video-3
http://movie.life-science-alliance.org/video/10.26508/lsa.201800106/video-4

Dr. Kerstin Wagner | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria
22.03.2019 | Harvard University

nachricht Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack
22.03.2019 | Rice 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: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Open source software helps researchers extract key insights from huge sensor datasets

22.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>