Loss of Enzyme Reduces Neural Activity in Angelman Syndrome – featured on Twitter
[Source: Science Daily.com]
Angelman Syndrome is a rare but serious genetic disorder that causes a constellation of developmental problems in affected children, including mental retardation, lack of speech, and in some cases, autism. Over a decade ago, researchers found that AS was caused by mutation in a single gene, but no one had been able to explain how this defect resulted in the debilitating neurological symptoms of the disease.
New work from Michael Greenberg, chair of the department of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), provides insight into the mystery by showing that the lost enzyme, Ube3A, interacts with a key neuronal protein in order to control how environmental input shapes synaptic connections. In other words, loss of Ube3A interferes with the brain’s ability to use environmental experience to fine-tune neuronal circuits, which could explain the devastating developmental deficits that occur in AS. This suggests new targets for treating Angelman syndrome. Currently, doctors can manage some AS symptoms, but there is no treatment for the core features.
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