"Jumping Genes" Linked to Schizophrenia
By Tia Ghose and LiveScience
Schizophrenia is long term mental disorder, which breaks down the relation between thought, emotions, actions, and reality. The exact cause of this disease is not known, but a new study shows the “Jumping Genes” tie to schizophrenia. Jumping genes, or retrotransposons, they are mobile genetic elements that copy and paste themselves throughout the genome; they make up half of the genome. These genes may alter how neurons, or nerve cells in the brain, form during development, thereby increasing the risk of schizophrenia. Earlier studies showed that a specific type of jumping gene known as long interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE-1), was active in human brain cells. Dr. Tadafumi Kato was one of the leading researchers in this experiment. He and his team wanted to know if LINE-1 played a role in mental illness. The team conducted a post-mortem analysis of 120 human brains, 13 of which, the patient had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. The team found a higher number of LINE-1 copies in the brains of schizophrenics compared with other groups.
The team also found that stem cells, or body cells that haven't yet become specialized, derived from the brains of people with schizophrenia had a higher concentration of LINE-1 genes than did those from people without the diagnosis. The team also found that people with schizophrenia, LINE-1 concentrations were increased near genes associated with psychiatric disorders that control how neurons in the brain communicate with one another. They concluded that LINE-1 segments could be inserting themselves into genes vital for brain development. When they are triggered by genetic and or environmental factors, they can alter that brain development, causing schizophrenia. A second test was conducted using mice and primates with inflammation meant to mimic schizophrenia. The results showed that these animals had more moveable genetic elements than healthy animals.
Though the results are very convincing, they cannot prove just yet they cause schizophrenia, just that there is a link between the two. But, the LINE-1 gene can help with other gene disorders, because it causes some people to be brilliant, but others to have debilitating diseases like Autism and Schizophrenia.
These discoveries could improve our understanding of schizophrenia. Also, they could help us prevent the disease and improve medicines. Living with schizophrenia is extremely difficult; people with it cannot control themselves. It not only affects the patient, but also all who have to live with that person. Many times, the patient cannot hold a job or live on their own and they need help from family and friends. These new discoveries can help improve the debilitating lifestyle that comes with schizophrenia.
This article was very well written. It was easy to read, but a few terms I had to look up, because I only had little knowledge on them. The authors probably could have expanded on these terms making it easier to read through without having to look things up. Otherwise, it was very informative and I learned a lot.