Brain DNA 'changes through life'
Sunday 30 October 2011
New research on brain cells could shed more light on neurological diseases, scientists have discovered.
Researchers from The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh have found brain cells alter their genetic make-up during a person's lifetime.
They have identified genes - known as retrotransposons - responsible for thousands of tiny changes in the DNA of brain tissue.
Researchers, whose work is published in the journal Nature, found that the genes were particularly active in areas of the brain linked to cell renewal.
By mapping the locations of these genes in the human genome, scientists could identify mutations that impact on brain function and that may cause diseases to develop.
The study shows for the first time that brain cells are genetically different to other cells in the body and are also genetically distinct from each other.
Scientists are now researching whether brain tumour formation and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's are associated with a change in retrotransposon activity.
Dr Geoff Faulkner said: "This research completely overturns the belief that the genetic make-up of brain cells remains static throughout life and provides us with new information about how the brain works.
"If we can understand better how these subtle genetic changes occur we could shed light on how brain cells regenerate, how processes like memory formation may have a genetic basis and possibly link the activity of these genes to brain diseases."
The research was carried out in collaboration with scientists from the Netherlands, Italy, Australia, Japan and the United States, and was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council.
- 2 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 4 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says jobless migrants should be banned from entering the UK
£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...
£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...
£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...