Scientists clearer on gene linked to motor neurone disease

4 Nov 2012

Scientists are closer to locating a therapeutic target for neurodegenerative disorders including Motor Neurone Disease (MND) after observing the gene linked to a number of brain conditions.

The study by scientists at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland (UQ), monitored the functions of TDP-43 in the nervous system, which until now have been largely unknown.

An expert in MND and contributor to the study, QBI’s Dr Robyn Wallace, says the analysis produced a list of 1,839 potential TDP-43 gene targets, many of which overlap with previous studies.

“In the past we have known TDP-43 is an RNA binding protein involved in gene regulation through control of RNA transcription, splicing and transport, however we haven’t been able to precisely pinpoint the genes it controls,” said Dr Wallace.

“By understanding the role TDP-43 plays in maintaining connections between nerve and muscle cells and the genes it controls, we can work towards developing therapeutic interventions to delay or eliminate deterioration of the gene.”

The findings will be published in the article Identification of RNA bound to the TDP-43 ribonucleoprotein complex in the adult mouse brain in the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis journal.

Queensland Brain Instiute’s research into MND is made possible thanks to the Ross Maclean Senior Research Fellowship, the Peter Goodenough Bequest and Scott Sullivan from MND and Me.