NYC Healthcare News



Scientists discover three susceptibility genes for development of progressive supranuclear palsy

April 10, 2016

In addition to finding that PSP patients had variants in their tau gene, which was expected, the researchers also found the three SNPs that appear to be candidate PSP genes. All three have neurological functions. MOBP is a protein associated with myelin, an insulating material that forms a sheath around the axon of nerves. Glial cells form myelin, and these cells are affected in PSP. STX6 is a gene involved in recycling the membrane of a neuron, and membrane recycling has been implicated in a number of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, according to Dr. Dickson. The third gene, EIF2AK3, is involved in translating RNA to protein, and it signals cells to stop making proteins when abnormal proteins start to accumulate inside cells ?? as they do in neurons when tau errantly builds up.

Variants in these three genes were also found in the two control populations, but were significantly higher in the PSP patients (both brain samples and PSP blood samples). That suggests these genes do not cause PSP, but contribute to a person's susceptibility to the disease, he says.

"We don't know for sure that these SNPs are precisely at these gene locations," says Dr. Dickson. "If they are real PSP susceptibility genes, we can then zero in on variants that have an impact on the disease, which might then be exploited therapeutically.

"While we are a long way from any new treatment, this new research is exciting for researchers who are dedicated to understanding this tragic disorder."

Source: Mayo Clinic