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How Genes Affect the Brain Activity

BY: Shivani Sharma | Category: Genetics | Submitted: 2013-10-24 00:49:40
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Article Summary: "This articles focuses completely on the genes that affect the brain activities and nerve impulses. Over the past few decades, some major breakthroughs have been made by researchers on the studies of the genes that are linked to brain and the results have been promising too. Lets take a tour on how these genes affect the brain ac.."


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This articles focuses completely on the genes that affect the brain activities and nerve impulses. Over the past few decades, some major breakthroughs have been made by researchers on the studies of the genes that are linked to brain and the results have been promising too. Lets take a tour on how these genes affect the brain activity.



The genes in action

1. rs7294919 : This is a gene sequence that is located on the chromosome 12 and has been reported to have links to the activity of hippocampus, a part of brain. This very location of chromosome 12 has been found to be present between the genes that are responsible for cell development and death. There also a region is present where genes responsible for cleaning up of proteins are located. Cleaning up of proteins like tau can defective in diseases like Alzheimer's disease.

In this gene sequence rs 7294919, a variant called T allele was found. It was shown to be linked to the lower hippocampus part of the brain. Its every instance can volume up the hippocampus up to 3.9 years of aging.

Such genes have been proved to play an important role in the size of the brain and its been suggested that they have direct links to brain resulting in the different brain sizes. This research was carried on 21,151 people and the researchers were successfully able to prove their point in the nature journal.


2. Genes related to "oligodendrocytes" : Dr Chiara Cirelli et al. have successfully measured the activities of these genes related to brain in a series of experiments conducted on mice. Oligodendrocytes have an important role in making myelin functionable in progressive regeneration and during injuries. It was found during this research that these specific genes that promoted myelin production were turned off during sleep. On the other hand the genes responsible for cell death and response were found to be turned on at the same time.
Such genes play a very important role in replenishing certain types of brain cells during sleep. Myelin, in the same context, plays a role in insulating the circuits of brain. It is also held responsible for the electric nerve impulses of the brain which are sent to the other parts of a human body.


For years scientists have researched and clanged over the question, "Why do we need sleep". They focused on the studies during the times when the subject was awake, no one ever thought about going the other way around but the current breakthrough discovery by Dr Chiara Cirelli has made the answer very clear. It is the genes that promote regeneration of certain vital types of cells during sleep and is of course not possible for them to do so when a person is awake. So a proper sleep plays an important role in the maintained regulation of genes and metabolic pathways.


However, the research has only been conducted on mice but it provides an opportunity to gain a better understanding and implications of the human mind. A lack of these genes may result into diseases like insomnia, leading to poor sleep patterns and thus no regeneration of the required genes which help the body to function overall.

3. Human accelerated regions (HARs) : These are the regions of our genome that happen to tell genes when to turn on or off. Till date more than 200 different HARs have been discovered in our genome. Many of these HARs are even located nearby the genes where they affect the brain regulatory system greatly. A better insight in this topic can lead to development of better diagnosis and treatments. A few of the scientists have started making genetic maps to show which genes are directly related to brain activity.

4. Jumping genes in brain defects: The jumping genes or transposons increase in abundance with the aging. Transposons are basically repetitive DNA sequences that enter themselves into another organism's genome. So when they insert themselves into a genome, various genetic variations can occur and some of these can be fatal too. However, the main point here to be discussed is the relationship between jumping genes and aging. If they are to be inserted in a person's genome at any point, concurrent aging and other aging related defects may occur. These genes are believed to have a direct link to the brain activities thus leading to progressive aging.


Thus it can be concluded that genes play an important role in the brain regulatory functions and a slight change in them can cause severe brain defects to occur which might even result into the damage of ability to function of the whole body. However, it can be assured that with the progressive research studies going on, we are getting to a point where novel approaches can be developed to handle the brain defects caused by genes and a certain harmful gene can be knocked off in times of need. Similarly new approaches are being developed to knock in the required genes in the patients with severe brain defects. Genes speak of facts and by relying on them we can develop better strategies to manage the genome that in whole is responsible for the defected LIFE that homo sapiens survive.

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Comments on this article: (3 comments so far)

Comment By Comment
Dr. Kiran B. Gaikwad - Author
2013-10-25 21:20:27 704
MS. Shivani you have writen a very informative article, congratulations... I am asking few points only for my knowledge. 1. You have said, transposable elements (TE) increases with aging, and they could be responcible for the process of aging. But they can insert themselve at any developmental stage of the human? 2. You could be knowing that, 50 percent of the human genome is derived from transposable elements. How can humans survive, with this amount of TE? 3. Once a TE is inserted in a gene for how long it stays there? 4. In continuation to point 2. TE could be prefertially inserted in introns, this may be the reason despite of in abundance they do not cause serious genetic defects in population. kindly share your views Regards Kiran Gaikwad Scientist Division of Genetics IARI, New Delhi
Shivani Sharma - Author
2013-10-26 23:05:00 705
Respected Ma'am, Thanks for taking out your time to have a read. Now about your questions, I'd like to point out here that transposon can either insert themselves or be artificially induced too. I was inspired by Dr. Joshua Dubnau's recent discovery on the jumping genes effect on aging while writing this very portion of the article. In my article, I have mentioned that they conducted this experiment on fruit fly only and hence discovered that the abundance of transposon increases with aging of fruit flies (effects in humans are yet to be discovered). Transposons are usually active with the brain development but they can be silenced very soon afterwards. So lets just focus the attention from the human to the fruit fly genome. In fruit fly, there exists a protein called Ago2, which plays an important role in protecting agains the activity of transposons but when Ago2's activity was inhibited, the transposons activity seemed to increase and hence the brain related defects like aging, brain and memory functioning including other neurogenerative defects. So yes, the most of the part of the genome is comprised of transposon but they express a harmful activity when the related protein that works against controlling the activity of transposon gets inhibited and that is basically why brain defects and diseases occur in the patients that are suffering with the same neurological disease. I sincerely hope I was able to clear your queries. Regards, Shivani Sharma.
Shivani Sharma - Author
2013-10-26 23:06:13 706
You sounded like you're very much interested in this very subject so if you'd wish, you can read the original paper by Joshua Dubnau on the Nature journal entitled 'Activation of transposable elements during aging and neuronal decline in Drosophila' or you may have a look at the science daily website's article ''Jumping Genes' May Contribute to Aging-Related Brain Defects'. Just providing you the sources. As Dr. Dubnau quotes, "transposon storm" may be responsible for age-related neurodegeneration as well as the pathology seen in some neurodegenerative disorders.

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