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Brain diseases

Junk DNA suspected to be behind destructive neurological diseases

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 by: Sandeep Godiyal
Tags: brain diseases, junk DNA, neurological disorders

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(NaturalNews) Scientists from UC San Francisco have recently bared findings that some DNA that used to be considered as junk, have a crucial role in brain development, and could be linked to a number of devastating neurological ailments. The efforts to finally determine the particular roles of the long-ignored DNA bits within the genomes of humans were given a boost with the recent discovery in tests done on mice.

While various genome projects have helped identify the gene-encoded protein roles, a lot of DNA cannot be found in genes. According to the UCSF scientists, the junk DNA has generally been neglected and pushed aside because of the genomic gene findings.

The research

In separate research, the UCSF team focused on long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) created from DNA templates, similar to RNA from genes. Daniel Lim, the study's
senior author, said that the surface has barely been scratched as far as discovering the function of the little-known RNA molecules is concerned.

A student enrolled in UCSF's MD/PhD program, Alexander Ramos, did a comprehensive computational analysis that intended to link lncRNAs in cells to the gene's activation by establishing guilt by association. He focused on the patterns associated with the progression of specific diseases or particular developmental pathways. He found a connection between an 88 lncRNA set and Huntington's disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disorder. He also found weaker links between specific lncRNA groups and Alzheimer's disease, major depressive disorder, convulsive seizures, and different cancer types.

While the messenger RNA guides protein production and is transcribed from the gene's DNA, long non-coding RNA molecules do not carry the protein blueprints. Thus, they have for the longest time been believed not to have any bearing on a cell's actions or fate. Nevertheless, just like messenger RNA, they are transcribed from DNA and consist of unique nucleic acid building block sequences.

There is proof that lncRNAs can bind structural proteins to chromosomes that contain DNA, and in the process, indirectly affect the activation of genes and cellular physiology without changing the genetic code. Simply put, from inside the cell, lncRNAs act beyond the genes or epigenetically and not through DNA changes.

The brain cells that researchers studied extensively gave rise to the different types of cells found in the central nervous system. These are mostly found in the subventicular zone, an area of the brain that overlies the striatum directly. This is where the neurons are shattered by Huntington's disease.

Ramos utilized a combination of advanced techniques for the sequencing and analysis of RNA and DNA to determine where particular chemical changes to the chromosomes happen, and to identify long non-coding RNAs on certain types of cells in the central nervous system. The study revealed about 2,000 not previously described molecules, out of approximately 9,000, that are believed to exist in various mammals from mice to humans.

Truth is, the scientists have produced data that are is much for them to explore. Thus, they uploaded it to a website where others can access and use in their own study on the lncRNA's role in disease and development.

Sources for this article include:

http://zeenews.india.com

http://www.ucsf.edu

http://freepressjournal.in/junk-dna-crucial-for-brain-development/

About the author:
Sandeep has written many health field articles for both Internet and print publication. He currently writing for insurancetips4u.co.

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