The birth and death of dopamine neurons: A new model for neurodegeneration

Dec 10, 2007

The gradual loss of dopamine neurons is a hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases - Parkinson’s Disease chief among them. Stem cell biology and regenerative medicine offer novel therapies for the restoration of dopamine neurons.

This week in the online open-access journal PLoS Biology Dr. Raja Kittappa, Dr. Wendy Chang, Dr. Rajeshwar Awatramani, and Dr. Ronald McKay show that the transcription factor FOXA2 plays a central role in the birth and death of dopamine neurons in the midbrain.

By defining precursors of dopamine neurons in the ventral midbrain, Kittappa et. al. have discovered that dopamine neurons are derived from organizer cells in the floor plate (the ventral cells of the neural tube and the embryonic foundation of the central nervous system). They also show that FOXA2 specifies the floor plate and actually induces the birth of dopamine neurons.

Mice with only a single copy of the foxa2 gene acquire motor deficits and a late-onset degeneration of dopamine neurons. This spontaneous cell death preferentially affects neurons associated with Parkinson disease. This work provides new strategies to generate neurons in the laboratory and to block their death in old age.

Citation: Kittappa R, Chang WW, Awatramani RB, McKay RDG (2007) The foxa2 gene controls the birth and spontaneous degeneration of dopamine neurons in old age. PLoS Biol 5(12): e325. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050325 (www.plosbiology.org)

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Full-annual-cycle models track migratory bird populations throughout the year

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why your laptop battery won't kill you

5 hours ago

News on Tuesday that major U.S. airlines are no longer going to ship powerful lithium-ion batteries might lead some to fret about the safety of their personal electronic devices.

Visa, MasterCard moving into mobile pay in Africa

5 hours ago

Americans may just be getting used to mobile pay, but consumers in many African countries have been paying with their phones for years. Now payment processors Visa and MasterCard want to get a slice of that market, and are ...

Recommended for you

Activating genes on demand

11 hours ago

When it comes to gene expression - the process by which our DNA provides the recipe used to direct the synthesis of proteins and other molecules that we need for development and survival - scientists have ...

Metabolic path to improved biofuel production

11 hours ago

Researchers with the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), a partnership that includes the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, have found a way ...

Deadly frog fungus dates back to 1880s, studies find

13 hours ago

A deadly fungus responsible for the extinction of more than 200 amphibian species worldwide has coexisted harmlessly with animals in Illinois and Korea for more than a century, a pair of studies have found.

User comments : 0

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.