Navigation Links
Schizophrenia Gene's Role May Be Broader, More Potent, than Thought
Date:11/19/2009

UCSF scientists studying nerve cells in fruit flies have uncovered a new function for a gene whose human equivalent may play a critical role in schizophrenia.

(Vocus) November 19, 2009 -- UCSF scientists studying nerve cells in fruit flies have uncovered a new function for a gene whose human equivalent may play a critical role in schizophrenia.

Scientists have known that the mutated form of the human gene – one of three consistently associated with schizophrenia – mildly disrupts the transmission of chemical signals between nerve cells in the brain.

The new study focuses on genes involved in “adaptive plasticity,” the capacity of nerve cells to compensate for a wide range of perturbations and continue to function normally.

Studies ranging from fruit flies to human have shown that if a nerve cell is functionally impaired then the surrounding cells can compensate and restore normal cell-to-cell communication. This type of “adaptive plasticity” stabilizes brain function, but the molecules involved remain largely unknown.

In the current study, the team screened 276 mutated, or disabled, fly genes to determine if their absence revealed a role in adaptive plasticity in the fruit fly nervous system. While absence of most of the genes had no impact on adaptive plasticity, the absence of the gene known as dysbindin did.

The finding, reported in the November 20, 2009 issue of Science, was dramatic, says the senior author of the study, Graeme Davis, PhD, Albert Bowers Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF.

“Mutation of the gene completely prevented the capacity of the neural circuitry to respond to an experimental perturbation, to be adaptive. The dysbindin mutation was one of very few gene mutations that had this effect,” he says. “The gene’s unique function suggests to us that impaired adaptive plasticity may have particular relevance to the cause or progression of schizophrenia.”

Schizophrenia generally emerges in people in their late teens or early adulthood. It’s possible, says Davis, that normal developmental changes at this stage of life represent a significant stress to ongoing, stable neural function. If so, he says, the capacity of the nervous system to respond to these normal developmental changes – which in a sense are perturbations – may be impaired in people who become schizophrenic.

The next question the researchers will ask,” he says, “is whether absence of the dysbindin gene causes a blockade of adaptive plasticity in mice and whether other genes linked to schizophrenia cause a similar block of adaptive plasticity.”

The study, led by Dion K. Dickman, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Davis lab, also revealed a more general insight into the mechanisms of adaptive plasticity because they were able to rule out the involvement of numerous genes that were previously considered as candidate players.

“We tested numerous mutations that alter neural function, and most showed perfectly fine adaptive plasticity.” he says, “This suggests that there are distinct roles for genes at the synapse, some support normal neural function while a small subset control adaptive plasticity.”

The phenomenon of adaptive plasticity, a burgeoning area of inquiry in the neurosciences, was first recognized more than a decade ago. Early studies by Davis, a pioneer of the field, showed that when genes functioning in the fruit fly nervous system were mutated, the nervous system would compensate and the animals appeared remarkably normal.

Davis has explored this and related phenomena at the neuromuscular junction in the fruit fly, or Drosophila melanogaster. He’s been asking how neural function is stabilized but also how the physical connections between nerve cells are stabilized and maintained throughout life. He would like to understand how this process sometimes fails, leading to neurodegeneration, such as occurs in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

“It’s become clear that the nervous system is remarkably stable, but not as one might suspect,” says Davis. “It is continuously responsive to a changing environment, which allows us to learn and remember and to respond to environmental change. There probably are many processes that are sensing the environment, continually updating neural function and neural structure in order to keep the brain stable. If we can understand how stability is maintained in the nervous system, perhaps we could understand what happens when stability is lost and disease ensues.”

“These are big questions that reach far beyond our current understanding of brain function,” he says. “This is the power and importance of basic science. By studying fundamental questions, you can discover unexpected phenomenon and also create new perspectives for understanding existing diseases, even if the human genes are known.” The new finding, he says, “may add a new dimension to the conversation about the origins of schizophrenia.”

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

Related links:
Davis lab: http://biochemistry.ucsf.edu/labs/davis/

Source: Jennifer O’Brien (415) 476-2557
Web: www.ucsf.edu

###

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/Schizophrenia/UCSF/prweb3224574.htm.


'/>"/>
Source: PRWeb
Copyright©2009 Vocus, Inc.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. APA Comments on FDAs First Approval of Medication to Treat Pediatric Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder
2. Normal role for schizophrenia risk gene identified
3. Schizophrenia Gene May Have On/Off Switch
4. Potential new approach to treat cognitive impairments in schizophrenia
5. Schizophrenia candidate genes affect even healthy individuals
6. Hearing messages embedded in noise could be early sign of schizophrenia
7. People with Schizophrenia More Likely to Die of Heart Disease, Reports the Harvard Mental Health Letter
8. US FDA approves ABILIFY for adolescent patients with schizophrenia
9. U.S. Food and Drug Administration Approves ABILIFY(R) (aripiprazole) for Adolescent Patients With Schizophrenia
10. Study Shows Organons Asenapine Demonstrates Efficacy and Tolerability in Treating Acute Schizophrenia
11. Genes Yield More Clues to Schizophrenia
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... TopConsumerReviews.com recently awarded their highest five-star rating ... Millions of individuals in the United States and Canada wear eyeglasses. Once considered to ... correct vision and make a fashion statement. Even celebrities use glasses as a way ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... On June 10-11, 2016, A Forever ... Cereal Festival and World’s Longest Breakfast Table in Battle Creek, MI, where the rehabilitation ... as home to some of the world’s leading providers of cereal and other breakfast ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 26, 2016 , ... PawPaws brand pet supplements owned by Whole ... enhance the health of felines. The formula is all-natural and is made from Chinese ... PawPaws Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews are Astragalus Root Extract and ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Many women ... diagnosed with endometriosis. These women need a treatment plan to not only alleviate ... that can help for preservation of fertility and ultimately achieving a pregnancy. The ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, ... Mohs Surgery and to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. ... skin cancer. The selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016   Bay Area Lyme ... Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness , ... Rehabilitation, MIT Hacking Medicine, University of California, Berkeley, ... announced the five finalists of Lyme Innovation ... More than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Calif. , June 24, 2016  American Respiratory Labs (ARL), ... is now able to perform sophisticated lung assessments in patients, homes, ... , Inc. Patients are no longer limited to ... EasyOne PRO ® , ARL patients like Jeanne R. of ... in the comfort of her own home. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016  Arkis BioSciences, a leading innovator in ... durable cerebrospinal fluid treatments, today announced it has ... is led by Innova Memphis, followed by Angel ... investors.  Arkis, new financing will accelerate the commercialization ... release of its in-licensed Endexo® technology. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: