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Researchers find gene critical for development of brain motor center
Date:6/20/2014

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.


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Contact: Paddy Moore
padmoore@ohri.ca
613-737-8899 x73687
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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