Decreased levels of binding gene affect memory and behavior

Dec 10, 2008

Reducing the activity of a gene called FKBP12 in the brains of mice affected neuron-to-neuron communication (synapse) and increased both fearful memory and obsessive behavior, indicating the gene could provide a target for drugs to treat diseases such as autism spectrum disorder, obsessive-compulsive disease and others, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston in a report in the current issue of the journal Neuron.

The protein FKBP12 regulates several important cell signaling pathways, and decreasing its activity enhances long-term potentiation in the hippocampus, said Dr. Susan Hamilton, chair of molecular physiology and biophysics at BCM and a senior author of the report. (Long-term potentiation means the enhancement of the synapse or communication between neurons.)

It accomplishes this by fine-tuning a particular pathway called mTOR signaling (mammalian target of rapamycin). The mice in whose brains the activity of the gene was reduced had longer memories and were more likely to exhibit repetitive behaviors than normal mice.

"These studies may offer insight into the molecular underpinnings of repetitive behaviors such as those seen in autism spectrum disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and other neurodegenerative disorders," said Hamilton. "Because these studies involved interrupting the mTOR signaling after birth, they challenge the idea that some aspects of these conditions are developmentally predetermined."

Source: Baylor College of Medicine

Explore further: Antiangiogenesis drugs could make major improvement in tuberculosis treatment

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Standalone wireless info display device an easy fit

5 hours ago

A Latvian team has come up with a good-looking WiFi display device, connecting to the Internet using WiFi, which runs on a high-capacity built-in battery and tracks what's important to you. This is a standalone ...

Technology improves avalanche gear for backcountry skiers

7 hours ago

As outdoor recreation companies increasingly cater to skiers and snowboarders who like to venture beyond the groomed slopes at ski resorts and tackle backcountry terrain, they've put a special emphasis on gear and equipment ...

The elephant poaching business in numbers

7 hours ago

From the pittance paid to local poachers to a multi-billion dollar industry, here are some of the key numbers related to Africa's endangered elephants:

UN moves toward major treaty for ocean biodiversity

7 hours ago

UN member states agreed Saturday to begin negotiations on a treaty to protect marine biodiversity in ocean areas extending beyond territorial waters, in a move heralded by environmental organizations.

Recommended for you

Cochlear implant users can hear, feel the beat in music

12 hours ago

People who use cochlear implants for profound hearing loss do respond to certain aspects of music, contrary to common beliefs and limited scientific research, says a research team headed by an investigator at Georgetown University ...

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.