Reproduction and Fertility is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_89877

Another gene clue to mental illness

18 November 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 335

Scottish researchers have identified another gene involved in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic depression), a discovery that could lead to new drug treatments for the conditions. The team, based at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, has shown that an altered version of a gene called PDE4B is linked to an increased risk of mental illness. The findings, published in the journal Science, build on previous work on another gene implicated in schizophrenia.

In 2000, researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified the 'disrupted in schizophrenia' 1 (DISC1) gene, after studying a Scottish family with several members affected by the disorder. Further work linked an altered version of the gene to an affected American family, and it has also been implicated in bipolar disorder and major depression.

The latest study shows that the phosphodiesterase 4B (PDE4B) gene is also involved in major mental illness, and that the PDE4B protein interacts with the DISC1 protein. The team showed that the PDE4B gene was disrupted by a chromosome translocation (a chromosome alteration in which sections of two different chromosomes swap locations), which had been inherited by a person with schizophrenia, as well as a cousin who also had a psychotic disorder. PDE4B is known to play an important role in how the brain thinks and builds memories.

Team leader David Porteous said the study was 'another important breakthrough in our still limited understanding of major mental illness', adding 'it is the result of a long term research commitment to use the tools of genetics to better understand the root cause of mental illness'. Professor Porteous said the work suggested new approaches for developing medicines, but cautioned that 'risk isn't all controlled by genes. It's very much an interaction between genes and environmental factors'. In an accompanying commentary, Akira Sawa and Solomon Snyder also suggest that drugs which act on DISC1 and PDE4B could prove effective, but conclude that 'the prediction of drug effects is still highly speculative'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Mental illness genetic risk found
BBC News Online |  18 November 2005
Scientists move forward understanding of schizophrenia
EurekaAlert |  17 November 2005
Two Genes Link Two Distinct Psychoses
Science |  18 November 2005
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
23 March 2009 - by Rose Palmer 
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Picower Institute for Learning and Memory in the US have found that a gene commonly associated with schizophrenia is essential for normal brain development and the growth of new neurons. The finding was reported in the journal Cell and...
19 January 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (previously manic depression) may be different manifestations of the same disease, according to a new study published in The Lancet medial journal last week. While hundreds or even thousands of genes, plus environmental factors, may contribute to the development of either condition, some...
1 August 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Three independent studies have identified gene variants which contribute significantly to schizophrenia risk, taking steps towards understanding the cause of this highly complex condition which affects 1 in 100 people. Two of the three gene variants discovered were rare, but conferred 12 and 15 percent higher risks...
31 March 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Two independent studies published in the journal Science this week suggest that many rare gene mutations may be responsible for causing schizophrenia, challenging the widely held theory that combinations of several relatively common mutations are to blame. The researchers found that very rare genetic disruptions, often unique...
26 March 2007 - by Dr Laura Bell 
Recent research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the disruption of a gene known to regulate the body clock and circadian rhythms in mice triggers behaviours similar to humans with bipolar disorder (previously called manic depression). Bipolar disorder is...
24 October 2005 - by BioNews 
A new study provides more evidence that a gene which affects levels of a key brain chemical is involved in schizophrenia. A team based at Stanford University in California, US, found that children with a single, 'low-activity' copy of a gene called COMT are at higher risk of developing psychotic...
15 April 2005 - by BioNews 
A person's risk of developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia after smoking cannabis as a teenager is affected by their genetic make-up, say UK researchers. A new study to be published in the journal Biological Psychiatry shows that a variant of the COMT gene is linked to a five-fold...
4 June 2001 - by BioNews 
Scientists from the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have found a gene variation that may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. The gene, called COMT (catecho-o-methytransferase) appears to control levels of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Lower levels of dopamine can affect performance in memory tasks and...
30 May 2000 - by BioNews 
Scientists at the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit, Edinburgh, have identified two altered genes that contribute to the development of schizophrenia. The team, led by Professor David Porteous, found that members of a Scottish family affected by the illness had altered versions of two genes found on human chromosome...
HAVE YOUR SAY
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.