Protein regulation linked to intellectual disability
Genetics researchers at the University of Adelaide have solved a 40-year mystery for a family beset by a rare intellectual disability – and they've discovered something new about the causes of intellectual disability in the process.
While many intellectual disabilities are caused directly by a genetic mutation in the so-called "protein coding" part of our genes, the researchers found that in their case the answer laid outside the gene and in the regulation of proteins.
Protein regulation involves the switching on or off of a protein by specific genes. As a consequence in this case, either too much or too little of this protein can trigger the disability.
The team has studied a large (anonymous) Australian family of 100 people, who for generations have not known the source of their genetically inherited condition.
The disability – which results in a lower IQ, behavioral problems such as aggression, and memory loss, and is linked with developmental delays, epilepsy, schizophrenia and other problems – affects only the male family members and can be passed on by the female family members to their children.
"The causes of intellectual disability generally are highly variable and the genetic causes in particular are numerous. The vast majority of intellectual disabilities are due to genetic mutations in proteins, so it was rather unexpected that we found this particular disability to be due to a regulatory mutation," says the leader of the study, Professor Jozef Gecz from the University of Adelaide's School of Pediatrics and Reproductive Health.
"We've been researching this specific disability for 10 years and it's taken us the last three years to convince ourselves that the protein regulation is the key," he says.
"For the family, this means we now have a genetic test that will determine whether or not a female member of the family is a carrier, which brings various benefits for the family.
"From a scientific point of view, this widens our viewpoint on the causes of these disabilities and tells us where we should also look for answers for those families and individuals without answers.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg in understanding the impact of altered gene regulation on intellectual disability – the gene regulatory landscape is much bigger than the protein coding landscape. We have already found, and I would expect to continue finding, a number of other intellectual disabilities linked with protein regulation over the next 20 years or so."
Professor Gecz and his team have published their findings in this month's issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Journal reference: American Journal of Human Genetics
Provided by University of Adelaide
- Gene identified as cause of some forms of intellectual disability Dec 15, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- New form of intellectual disability discovered Apr 27, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Study finds large proportion of intellectual disability is not genetically inherited Sep 26, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- New gene discovered for new form of intellectual disability Apr 24, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- New gene for intellectual disability discovered Jul 15, 2011 | 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
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Northwestern University scientists have shown a gene involved in neurodegenerative disease also plays a critical role in the proper function of the circadian clock.
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Informed consent is the backbone of patient care. Genetic testing has long required patient consent and patients have had a "right not to know" the results. However, as 21st century medicine now begins to use the tools of ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 3 |
Ethicists provide framework supporting new recommendations on reporting incidental findings in gene sequencing
In a paper published in Science Express, a group of experts led by bioethicists in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine provide a framework for the new American College of Medical Geneti ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
The use of genome-wide analysis (GWA), where the entirety of an individual's DNA is examined to look for the genomic mutations or variants which can cause health problems is a massively useful technology for diagnosing disease. ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
DNA databases might help identify victims of crime and human trafficking, but how do we safeguard the personal privacy of innocent victims and family members? A new report online May 15 in the Cell Press journal Trends in ...
Genetics May 15, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
15 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
12 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
13 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |