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: Stroke damage mechanism identified

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers unwind the mysteries of the cellular clock

21 hours ago

Human existence is basically circadian. Most of us wake in the morning, sleep in the evening, and eat in between. Body temperature, metabolism, and hormone levels all fluctuate throughout the day, and it ...

Controlling genes with your thoughts

Nov 11, 2014

Researchers led by ETH Zurich professor Martin Fussenegger have constructed the first gene network that can be controlled by our thoughts. The inspiration for this development was a game that picks up brainwaves ...

Stem cells use 'first aid kits' to repair damage

Sep 18, 2014

Stem cells hold great promise as a means of repairing cells in conditions such as multiple sclerosis, stroke or injuries of the spinal cord because they have the ability to develop into almost any cell type. ...

Recommended for you

Stroke damage mechanism identified

21 hours ago

Researchers have discovered a mechanism linked to the brain damage often suffered by stroke victims—and are now searching for drugs to block it.

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.