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'REST' is crucial for the timing of brain development
Date:3/2/2012

t flies, but until now, no one has been able to identify such adapter-molecules in humans or other mammals. This has led to various biological hypotheses, but now we are able to show that this genetic mechanism has been conserved trough out evolution," says Nikolaj Dietrich.

Brain damage and brain tumors

REST and PRC are attached to neuronal genes in the early fetal stem cells, keeping neuronal genes turned off. During fetal development, REST disappears in cells that are determined to develop into neuronal cells, whereas the molecule is preserved in other cell types. REST is also preserved in special neuronal stem cells, ensuring that these cells maintain their stem cell properties. This is crucial if we experience damage to our nervous system later in life, as only the neuronal stem cells can repair the damage by giving rise to new neurons and thereby secure vital body functions. However, REST also appears to be associated with a higher risk of cancer:

"An increased amount of REST has been found in the brain tumor form called neuroblastoma. Some of our results indicate that REST may be involved in cancer, as the molecule can turn off some growth-inhibitory and cancer-protective genes called tumor suppressors. This possible action of REST is the focus of ongoing studies," says Nikolaj Dietrich.


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Contact: Klaus Hansen
klaus.hansen@bric.ku.dk
(45) 21-15-55-64
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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