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Calculating gene and protein connections in a Parkinson's disease model
Date:2/22/2009

FINDINGS: Researchers have created an algorithm that meshes existing data to produce a clearer step-by-step flow chart of how cells respond to stimuli. Using this new method, Whitehead Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists have analyzed alpha-synuclein toxicity to identify genes and pathways that can affect cell survival. Misfolded copies of the alpha-synuclein protein in brain cells are a hallmark of Parkinson's disease.

RELEVANCE: Until now, data on gene expression and protein production have not been consistently analyzed together, leaving gaps in researchers' understanding of how various genes and proteins interact to form a cell's response to a stimulus. This new method could speed the development of therapies for a variety of diseases, including Parkinson's disease.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (February 22, 2009) A novel approach to analyzing cellular data is yielding new understanding of Parkinson's disease's destructive pathways.

Whitehead Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists have employed this new computational technique to analyze alpha-synuclein, a mysterious protein that is associated with Parkinson's disease.

Cells are constantly adapting to various stimuli, including changes in their environment and mutations, through an intricate web of molecular interactions. Knowledge of these changes is crucial for developing new treatments for diseases. To decipher how a cell responds to various stimuli, laboratories worldwide have been turning to new technologies that produce vast amounts of data. Such data typically exists in two major forms: genetic screen data (the results from deleting a gene from a cell's genome and seeing what observable traits appear in the cell) and information on the cellular levels of messenger RNA (mRNA, which is the template for proteins).

Historically, these two types of data have largely been analyzed independently of each othe
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Contact: Nicole Giese
giese@wi.mit.edu
617-258-6851
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Source:Eurekalert  

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