Skip to comments.Schizophrenia as Misstep by Giant Gene
Posted on 04/17/2006 8:06:10 PM PDT by neverdem
Researchers have made progress in understanding how a variant gene linked to schizophrenia may exert its influence in the brain. The findings are tentative but, if confirmed, could yield deep insights into the biological basis of the disease.
The gene, called neuregulin-1, was first implicated in schizophrenia in 2002 by DeCode Genetics, a Reykjavik company that looks for the genetic roots of common diseases...
But how the variant form of the gene contributed to the disease was far from clear, in part because even the normal gene's function is far from understood. A team led by Amanda J. Law of the University of Oxford in England and Daniel R. Weinberger of the National Institutes of Health has now developed clues as to how the gene may go wrong.
Neuregulin is one of about 10 genes so far linked to schizophrenia. It plays many different roles in the brain, some concerned with synapses, the interconnections between neurons, so derangements of its function are a plausible source of schizophrenia. It is a long road, however, from knowing a variant gene is linked with a disease to understanding the biology of how the disease is caused.
The problem is particularly daunting with neuregulin. It is one of the largest genes in the human genome, sprawling over some 1,125,000 units of DNA, and it generates at least six types of protein through a procedure known as alternative splicing, in which different components of the gene are mixed and matched so that each set specifies a different protein.
Adding to the complexity, the variant stretch of DNA that DeCode linked to schizophrenia does not lie in the neuregulin gene itself but just upstream of it, meaning that it presumably affects not the actual proteins produced by the gene but the way the gene is controlled.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Why do we need this research when we have Tom Cruise?!!!
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