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Researchers at UH work to prevent neurological diseases
Date:6/24/2010

come from hormones and environmental pollutants, it is essential that we understand how the commands are given and received if we are going to prevent those diseases, which appear to be due to the incorrect positioning of neurons."

Liver X and thyroid hormone receptors, which were studied for this paper, have been found to be essential to the developing cortex in mouse embryos and thereby sometimes regulate the same genes. The first part of the paper explains the importance of the liver X receptor, or LXR, which has been shown to be an important factor in brain development and, very likely, in neurological diseases. LXR plays key roles in cholesterol regulation and the central nervous system, regulating brain cholesterol levels, as well as in maintenance of motor neurons in the spinal cord. Gustafsson said the LXR belongs to a gene family called nuclear receptors that is akin to a "military division." If the LXR "commander" is taken away, the neurons under its command do not move. The second part of the paper says another "commander," called a thyroid hormone receptor, can later wake up the neurons that have stopped on the way and make them move again so that the formation of the cortex is restored.

The research team analyzed the architecture of the cerebral cortex in embryonic and neonatal mice, removing different receptors through genetic manipulation. When they want to find out the function of a gene, they use knockout technology to inactivate it, or knock it out. The process involves inserting a mistake into the gene. Since the genes in mice have similar functions in humans, the researchers can obtain information about what causes human diseases.


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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

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