Navigation Links
Researchers find gene critical for development of brain motor center

Ottawa June 20, 2014 In a report published today in Nature Communications, an Ottawa-led team of researchers describe the role of a specific gene, called Snf2h, in the development of the cerebellum. Snf2h is required for the proper development of a healthy cerebellum, a master control centre in the brain for balance, fine motor control and complex physical movements.

Athletes and artists perform their extraordinary feats relying on the cerebellum. As well, the cerebellum is critical for the everyday tasks and activities that we perform, such as walking, eating and driving a car. By removing Snf2h, researchers found that the cerebellum was smaller than normal, and balance and refined movements were compromised.

Led by Dr. David Picketts, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, the team describes the Snf2h gene, which is found in our brain's neural stem cells and functions as a master regulator. When they removed this gene early on in a mouse's development, its cerebellum only grew to one-third the normal size. It also had difficulty walking, balancing and coordinating its movements, something called cerebellar ataxia that is a component of many neurodegenerative diseases.

"As these cerebellar stem cells divide, on their journey toward becoming specialized neurons, this master gene is responsible for deciding which genes are turned on and which genes are packed tightly away," said Dr. Picketts. "Without Snf2h there to keep things organized, genes that should be packed away are left turned on, while other genes are not properly activated. This disorganization within the cell's nucleus results in a neuron that doesn't perform very welllike a car running on five cylinders instead of six."

The cerebellum contains roughly half the neurons found in the brain. It also develops in response to external stimuli. So, as we practice tasks, certain genes or groups of genes are turned on and off, which strengthens these circuits and helps to stabilize or perfect the task being undertaken. The researchers found that the Snf2h gene orchestrates this complex and ongoing process. These master genes, which adapt to external cues to adjust the genes they turn on and off, are known as epigenetic regulators.

"These epigenetic regulators are known to affect memory, behaviour and learning," said Dr. Picketts. "Without Snf2h, not enough cerebellar neurons are produced, and the ones that are produced do not respond and adapt as well to external signals. They also show a progressively disorganized gene expression profile that results in cerebellar ataxia and the premature death of the animal."

There are no studies showing a direct link between Snf2h mutations and diseases with cerebellar ataxia, but Dr. Picketts added that it "is certainly possible and an interesting avenue to explore."

In 2012, Developmental Cell published a paper by Dr. Picketts' team showing that mice lacking the sister gene Snf2l were completely normal, but had larger brains, more cells in all areas of the brain and more actively dividing brain stem cells. The balance between Snf2l and Snf2h gene activity is necessary for controlling brain size and for establishing the proper gene expression profiles that underlie the function of neurons in different regions, including the cerebellum.


Contact: Paddy Moore
613-737-8899 x73687
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Related medicine news :

1. NIH awards $20 million over 5 years to train next generation of global health researchers
2. Researchers develop a new cell and animal model of inflammatory breast cancer
3. Researchers uncover a viable way for colorectal cancer patients to overcome drug resistance
4. Researchers Find Gene Mutations That May Be a Key to Autism
5. Researchers find evidence of banned antibiotics in poultry products
6. NJ stroke researchers report advances in spatial neglect research at AAN Conference
7. Autism by the numbers: Yale researchers examine impact of new diagnostic criteria
8. Researchers Map Brain Regions Linked to Intelligence
9. Researchers ID Genes That May Determine Mental Illness
10. Researchers Develop Blood Test for Depression
11. University of Cincinnati researchers win $3.7M grant from US Department of Defense
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... A team of Swiss doctors has ... it. Surviving Mesothelioma has just posted the findings on the website. Click here ... the cases of 136 mesothelioma patients who were treated with chemotherapy followed by EPP ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... Lizzie’s Lice ... The company is offering customers 10% off of their purchase of lice treatment product. ... at full price. According to a company spokesperson. “Finding lice is a sure way ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... MPWH, the No.1 Herpes-only dating community in the world, ... Table 1-1 ). More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 – ... according to WHO's first global estimates of HSV-1 infection . , "The data shocks ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... ... A simply groundbreaking television series, "Voices in America", which is hosted by ... of issues that are presently affecting Americans. Dedicated to providing the world with a ... the subjects consumers focus on, one episode at a time. , In the ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... CBD College is proud to announce ... (CAAHEP) awarded accreditation to its Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. CBD College is honored to ... of twelve colleges and universities in the state of California make the cut. CBD ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)...  The total global healthcare industry is expected to grow ... Latin America has the highest projected growth at ... Japan ), is second with growth projected at 11.5%. ... healthcare expenditure. In 2013-2014, total government funded healthcare was nearly ... to 41.2% in 2013-2014. In real terms, out of pocket ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015  The American Academy of ... (ACOG), and the March of Dimes cheered today,s ... Our Infants Act of 2015 (S.799), which ... newborns born exposed to drugs, such as opioids, ... introduction, all three organizations have worked together leading ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015 AAIPharma Services Corp./Cambridge ... of at least $15.8  Million to expand its ... NC . The expansion will provide additional ... the growing demands of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology ... expansion will provide up to 40,000 square feet ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: