Neuroscience

Articles and news from the latest research reports.

70 notes

Possible role for Huntington’s gene discovered
About 20 years ago, scientists discovered the gene that causes Huntington’s disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disorder that affects about 30,000 Americans. The mutant form of the gene has many extra DNA repeats in the middle of the gene, but scientists have yet to determine how that extra length produces Huntington’s symptoms.
In a new step toward answering that question, MIT biological engineers have found that the protein encoded by this mutant gene alters patterns of chemical modifications of DNA. This type of modification, known as methylation, controls whether genes are turned on or off at any given time.
The mutant form of this protein, dubbed “huntingtin,” appears to specifically target genes involved in brain cell function. Disruptions in the expression of these genes could account for the neurodegenerative symptoms seen in Huntington’s disease, including early changes in cognition, says Ernest Fraenkel, an associate professor of biological engineering at MIT.
Fraenkel’s lab is now investigating the details of how methylation might drive those symptoms, with an eye toward developing potential new treatments. “One could imagine that if we can figure out, in more mechanistic detail, what’s causing these changes in methylation, we might be able to block this process and restore normal levels of transcription early on in the patients,” says Fraenkel, senior author of a paper describing the findings in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lead author of the paper is Christopher Ng, an MIT graduate student in biological engineering. Other authors are MIT postdoc Ferah Yildirim; recent graduates Yoon Sing Yap, Patricio Velez and Adam Labadorf; technical assistants Simona Dalin and Bryan Matthews; and David Housman, the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Biology.

Possible role for Huntington’s gene discovered

About 20 years ago, scientists discovered the gene that causes Huntington’s disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disorder that affects about 30,000 Americans. The mutant form of the gene has many extra DNA repeats in the middle of the gene, but scientists have yet to determine how that extra length produces Huntington’s symptoms.

In a new step toward answering that question, MIT biological engineers have found that the protein encoded by this mutant gene alters patterns of chemical modifications of DNA. This type of modification, known as methylation, controls whether genes are turned on or off at any given time.

The mutant form of this protein, dubbed “huntingtin,” appears to specifically target genes involved in brain cell function. Disruptions in the expression of these genes could account for the neurodegenerative symptoms seen in Huntington’s disease, including early changes in cognition, says Ernest Fraenkel, an associate professor of biological engineering at MIT.

Fraenkel’s lab is now investigating the details of how methylation might drive those symptoms, with an eye toward developing potential new treatments. “One could imagine that if we can figure out, in more mechanistic detail, what’s causing these changes in methylation, we might be able to block this process and restore normal levels of transcription early on in the patients,” says Fraenkel, senior author of a paper describing the findings in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lead author of the paper is Christopher Ng, an MIT graduate student in biological engineering. Other authors are MIT postdoc Ferah Yildirim; recent graduates Yoon Sing Yap, Patricio Velez and Adam Labadorf; technical assistants Simona Dalin and Bryan Matthews; and David Housman, the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Biology.

Filed under huntington’s disease DNA methylation genetic expression brain cells huntingtin science

  1. jennifermmendez reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  2. iamafatcat reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  3. biomolunirio reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  4. biognosis reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  5. sterilegauze reblogged this from neurosciencestuff and added:
    Possible role for Huntington’s gene discovered About 20 years ago, scientists discovered the gene that causes...
  6. cosmicrot reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  7. juliobasabe reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  8. j-amesholmes reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  9. miserablexatxbest reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  10. theamnestycorner reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  11. spittingunicorns reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  12. molecularlifesciences reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  13. graceevolved reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  14. humblenomore reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  15. mysticalshamanjosh reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  16. cafrinesays reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  17. attentiontodisorder reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  18. sherloki-of-asgard reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  19. bleublah reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  20. brilliantstreet reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  21. 1one1one1 reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
free counters