Non-coding RNA has role in inherited neurological disorder -- and maybe other brain diseases too
Researchers have discovered that expression of the ataxin‑7 gene - the cause of the neurological disorder spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 - has two regulators: a highly conserved, multi‑tasking protein called CTCF and, surprisingly, an adjacent promoter containing non‑coding RNA. Credit: Illustration courtesy of Christina Takamatsu‑Butler, UC San Diego.
A team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have uncovered a novel mechanism regulating gene expression and transcription linked to Spinocerebellar ataxia 7, an inherited neurological disorder. The discovery promises to have broad ramifications, suggesting that abundant non-coding transcripts of ribonucleic acid (RNA) may be key players in neurological development and function, and could be powerful targets for future clinical therapies.
The research, headed by Albert La Spada, MD, PhD, chief of the division of genetics in the UCSD department of pediatrics, and professor of cellular and molecular medicine, neurosciences and biological sciences, is published in the June 22 issue of the journal Neuron.
"Our paper highlights a number of important emerging themes in our understanding of gene regulation in the brain," said La Spada, who is also associate director of the UCSD Institute for Genomic Medicine.
"With the advent of new technologies, science has learned that the vast majority of our transcripts are non-coding," said La Spada. "The challenge going forward is to determine what they do do, and if they have specific functions. It now seems increasingly likely that a multitude of these non-coding RNAs help finely tune transcription regulation in the brain, and perturbation of their work is linked to disease. If we can figure out exactly how, we should be able to gain new insights into how the brain is so precisely regulated knowledge that may help us better understand how the brain works."
Spinocerebellar ataxia 7 is one of several types of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), genetic degenerative disorders characterized by atrophy in the cerebellum of the brain, progressive loss of physical coordination and in the case of type 7 retinal degeneration that can result in blindness. There is currently no known cure.
Many SCAs are classified as polyglutamine diseases, caused when a protein associated with the disease contains too many repeats of the amino acid glutamine. Polyglutamine diseases are also known as "CAG Triplet Repeat Disorders" because CAG is the sequence of nucleic acids that codes for glutamine.
La Spada and colleagues have long studied SCA. In 2001, they were the first to demonstrate that SCA7 retinal degeneration was the result of transcription dysregulation of ataxin-7, the protein associated with SCA7. Following up, they decided to learn how the gene that expresses ataxin-7 is itself regulated.
The researchers found not one, but two, regulators. The first is called CTCF, a highly conserved protein that regulates a variety of transcriptional processes, most notable establishing insulator domains and controlling genomic imprinting. But they also discovered an adjacent, alternative promoter dubbed intron 2 promoter (P2A) and a transcribed antisense, non-coding RNA, which they labeled SpinoCerebellarAtaxia-AntisenseNoncodingTranscript1 or SCAANT1.
Antisense RNA is single-stranded ribonucleic acid whose primary function appears to be as an inhibitor or suppressor of a gene, though sometimes it can promote gene expression instead. Most antisense RNAs are non-coding, meaning that their sequences do not provide information for making proteins. Even though non-coding RNAs do not provide instructions for the production of vital proteins, they comprise the bulk of the human genome. A major challenge for biomedical research in the 21st century is to figure what they do, and how they do it.
In their Neuron paper, La Spada and colleagues highlight one function, at least for SCAANT1. When they investigated how CTCF regulated ataxin-7 gene expression in transgenic mice, they discovered that CTCF promotes the production of SCAANT1 which in turn represses the newly discovered ataxin-7 sense promoter P2A. In mice lacking SCAANT1, sense promoter P2A is de-repressed, allowing a mutant ataxin-7 gene to be expressed, resulting in mice with a version of SCA7. The scientists found a similar lack of antisense SCAANT1 in the fibroblasts and white blood cells taken from human patients with SCA7, implicating deregulation of this pathway in the disease process.
As many inherited neurological disorders are now known to exhibit such overlapping "bidirectional" transcription, the findings in SCA7 could shed light on similar abnormalities with non-coding RNA function in a number of brain diseases.
Provided by University of California - San Diego
- Transcription factor clears protein clumps in Huntington's mice models Dec 14, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Nna proteins play role in catastrophic neuron death in mice, flies -- and perhaps people Jun 24, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Scientists discover role for dueling RNAs Nov 16, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- Mouse model confirms mutated protein's role in dementia Nov 02, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Scientists shed new light on cause of inherited movement disorder Jul 22, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
For combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 'fear circuitry' in the brain never rests
Chronic trauma can inflict lasting damage to brain regions associated with fear and anxiety. Previous imaging studies of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, have shown that these brain regions can over-or ...
Neuroscience May 18, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
The neural machinery underlying our olfactory sense continues to be an enigma for neuroscience. A recent review in Neuron seeks to expand traditional ideas about how neurons in the olfactory bulb might encode information about ...
Neuroscience May 17, 2013 | 4 / 5 (1) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—What if the quality of your work depends more on your focus on the piano keys or canvas or laptop than your musical or painting or computing skills? If target users can be convinced, they ...
Neuroscience May 17, 2013 | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Neurological disorders can have a devastating impact on the lives of sufferers and their families.
Neuroscience May 17, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
If you're a left-brain thinker, chances are you use your right hand to hold your cell phone up to your right ear, according to a newly published study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Neuroscience May 16, 2013 | 2 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have identified a potential new risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea: asthma. Using data from the National Institutes of Health (Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)-funded Wisconsin ...
10 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Scientists at Johns Hopkins have turned their view of osteoarthritis (OA) inside out. Literally. Instead of seeing the painful degenerative disease as a problem primarily of the cartilage that cushions joints, ...
11 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (4) | 0 |
In their quest to learn more about the variability of cells between and within tissues, biomedical scientists have devised tools capable of simultaneously measuring dozens of characteristics of individual ...
11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
A new study looking at sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and markers for Alzheimer's disease (AD) risk in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and neuroimaging adds to the growing body of research linking the two.
10 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
The hunt for an HIV vaccine has gobbled up $8 billion in the past decade, and the failure of the most recent efficacy trial has delivered yet another setback to 26 years of efforts.
15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Gourmands and foodies everywhere have long recognized ginger as a great way to add a little peppery zing to both sweet and savory dishes; now, a study from researchers at Columbia University shows purified components of the ...
10 hours ago | not rated yet | 0