Researchers identify role of FOXO1 gene in Parkinson's disease

June 29, 2012

A recent study led by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) revealed that the FOXO1 gene may play an important role in the pathological mechanisms of Parkinson's disease. These findings are published online in PLoS Genetics, a peer-reviewed open-access journal published by the Public Library of Science.

The study was led by Alexandra Dumitriu, PhD, a postdoctoral associate in the department of neurology at BUSM. Richard Myers, PhD, professor of neurology at BUSM, is the study's senior author.

According to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year and approximately one million Americans are currently living with the disease.

Parkinson's disease is a complex characterized by a buildup of proteins in that lead to their inability to communicate with one another, causing motor function issues, including tremors and slowness in movement, as well as dementia. The is an area of the midbrain that helps control movement, and previous research has shown that this area of the brain loses neurons as Parkinson's disease progresses.

The researchers analyzed differences in brain tissue between 27 samples with known Parkinson's disease and 26 samples from neurologically healthy controls. This data set represents the largest number of brain samples used in a whole-genome expression study of Parkinson's disease to date. The novel aspect of this study is represented by the researchers' emphasis on removing possible sources of variation by minimizing the differences among samples. They used only male brain tissue samples that showed no significant marks of Alzheimer's , one of the frequently co-occurring in Parkinson's disease patients. The samples also had similar tissue quality and were from the brain's , one of the less studied areas for the disease. The prefrontal cortex does not show neuronal death to the same extent as the substantia nigra, although it displays molecular and pathological modifications during the disease process, while also being responsible for the dementia present in a large proportion of Parkinson's disease patients.

Results of the expression experiment showed that the gene FOXO1 had increased expression in the samples with known Parkinson's disease. FOXO1 is a transcriptional regulator that can modify the expression of other genes. Further examination of the FOXO1 gene showed that two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), or DNA sequence variations, were significantly associated with age at onset of Parkinson's disease.

"Our hypothesis is that FOXO1 acts in a protective manner by activating genes and pathways that fight the neurodegeneration processes," said Dumitriu. "If this is correct, there could be potential to explore FOXO1 as a therapeutic drug target for Parkinson's disease."

Explore further: People with Parkinson's disease may have double the risk for melanoma

Related Stories

People with Parkinson's disease may have double the risk for melanoma

June 6, 2011
An analysis of several studies shows that people with Parkinson's disease have a significantly higher risk of melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer and the leading cause of death from skin diseases. The research ...

Widespread brain atrophy detected in Parkinson's disease with newly developed structural pattern

December 12, 2011
Atrophy in the hippocampus, the region of the brain known for memory formation and storage, is evident in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients with cognitive impairment, including early decline known as mild cognitive impairment ...

Scientists discover genetic mutation that causes Parkinson's disease

September 8, 2011
A large team of international researchers have identified a new genetic cause of inherited Parkinson's disease that they say may be related to the inability of brain cells to handle biological stress. The study, published ...

People with Parkinson's more likely to have leg restlessness than restless leg syndrome

November 9, 2011
People with Parkinson's disease may be more likely to have a movement disorder called leg motor restlessness, but not true restless legs syndrome as previous studies have suggested, according to a study published in the Nov. ...

Researchers visualize the development of Parkinson's cells

January 31, 2012
In the US alone, at least 500,000 people suffer from Parkinson's disease, a neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to control his or her movement. New technology from the University of Bonn in Germany lets ...

Recommended for you

Researchers drill down into gene behind frontotemporal lobar degeneration

October 19, 2017
Seven years ago, Penn Medicine researchers showed that mutations in the TMEM106B gene significantly increased a person's risk of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), the second most common cause of dementia in those ...

New clues to treat Alagille syndrome from zebrafish

October 18, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) identifies potential new therapeutic avenues for patients with Alagille syndrome. The discovery, published in Nature Communications, ...

Genetic variants associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder identified

October 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found evidence of four genes that can be linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group ...

An architect gene is involved in the assimilation of breast milk

October 17, 2017
A family of "architect" genes called Hox coordinates the formation of organs and limbs during embryonic life. Geneticists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), ...

Study identifies genes responsible for diversity of human skin colors

October 12, 2017
Human populations feature a broad palette of skin tones. But until now, few genes have been shown to contribute to normal variation in skin color, and these had primarily been discovered through studies of European populations.

Genes critical for hearing identified

October 12, 2017
Fifty-two previously unidentified genes that are critical for hearing have been found by testing over 3,000 mouse genes. The newly discovered genes will provide insights into the causes of hearing loss in humans, say scientists ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.