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Stanford researchers identify genetic suspects in sporadic Lou Gehrig's disease
Date:5/26/2013

ead author. Gitler and Chesi collaborated with members of the laboratory of Gerald Crabtree, MD, professor of developmental biology and of pathology. Crabtree, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is also a co-author of the study.

Chesi and Gitler combined deductive reasoning with recent advances in sequencing technology to conduct the work, which relied on the availability of genetic samples from not only ALS patients, but also the patients' unaffected parents. Such trios can be difficult to obtain for diseases like sporadic ALS that strike well into adulthood when a patient's parents may no longer be alive. Gitler and Chesi collaborated with researchers from Emory University and Johns Hopkins University to collect these samples.

The researchers compared the sequences of a portion of the genome called the exome, which directly contributes to the amino acid sequences of all the proteins in a cell. (Many genes contain intervening, non-protein-coding regions of DNA called introns that are removed prior to protein production.) Mutations found only in the patient's exome, but not in that of his or her parents', were viewed as potential disease-associated candidates - particularly if they affected the composition or structure of the resulting protein made from that gene.

Focusing on just the exome, which is about 1 percent of the total amount of DNA in each human cell, vastly reduced the total amount of DNA that needed to be sequenced and allowed the researchers to achieve relatively high coverage (or repeated sequencing to ensure accuracy) of each sample.

"We wanted to find novel changes in the patients," Chesi said. "These represent a class of mutations called de novo mutations that likely occurred during the production of the parents' reproductive cells." As a result, these mutations would be carried in all the cells of patients, but not in their parents or siblings.

Using the exome sequencing technique, the rese
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Contact: Krista Conger
kristac@stanford.edu
650-725-5371
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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