Researchers Identify Genes and Pathways Associated with Neurodegeneration

Researchers Identify Genes and Pathways Associated with Neurodegeneration
A recent study published in the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine revealed genes and signaling pathways associated with neuronal death and neurodegeneration. The study is entitled “Featured Article: Transcriptome profiling of expression changes during neuronal death by RNA-Seq.” Neuronal death is a natural process that is part of brain development. However, if this process of elimination of neurons is not properly regulated, it becomes a major cause of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal death, either as a natural process or linked to degenerative brain disorders, are not clear. Because of this, it is important to determine the genes that can potentially promote or block neuron elimination. The team, led by researchers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, conducted a comprehensive analysis of transcriptome expression alterations (i.e., at the level of RNA, the messenger of genetic information) during the process of neuronal death. The technique applied is called RNA-Sequencing (RNA-Seq), which corresponds to a next-generation sequencing method. It is a very sensitive method that is able to reveal the smallest presence and amounts of RNA. Cultured cerebellar granule neurons were analyzed in this study, as they are the neuronal death model most widely used. The team identified a considerable number of genes (over 4,000) with significantly altered expressions, with the majority being related to the regulation of survival and cell death, molecular transport, cell growth, and proliferation. Two of the signaling pathways found to be affected were related to the mitochondrial function and oxidat
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