The scientists have equipped mice with a genetic switch: an enzyme that can rearrange previously marked portions of the DNA. The switch is activated by a drug: When the mouse receives the drug, the enzyme performs a genetic manipulation for example, to disable a particular gene. The switch is so designed that over the long term, it targets only the microglia, but not other cells in the brain or in the rest of the organism. In this manner, researchers can clarify not only the function of the microglia, but the roles of different genes in their mechanism of action.
As reported in Nature Neuroscience, Weizmann scientists, in collaboration with the team of Prof. Marco Prinz at the University of Freiburg, Germany, recently used this system to examine the role of an inflammatory gene expressed by the microglia. They found that the microglia contribute to an animal disease equivalent of multiple sclerosis. Prof. Jung's team included Yochai Wolf, Diana Varol and Dr. Simon Yona, all of Weizmann's Immunology Department.
The system developed at the Weizmann Institute, currently applied in numerous other studies by researchers at Weizmann and elsewhere, promises to shed new light on the role of the microglia in the healthy brain as well as in Alzheimer's, ALS and various other diseases.
Prof. Steffen Jung's research is supported by the Leir Charitable Foundations; the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; the Adelis Foundation; Lord David Alliance, CBE; the Wolfson Family Charitable Trust; the estate of Olga Klein Astrachan; and the European Research Council.
The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world's top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences
|Contact: Yivsam Azgad|
Weizmann Institute of Science