JERUSALEM, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Israeli scientists have discovered the effect of a gene in causing epilepsy and autism, which may lead to new therapies, the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) reported Thursday.
In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, the WIS researchers examined a non-coding gene, which is not translated into protein but replicated into control molecules.
The researchers found that by releasing the grip of this gene from another gene that produces proteins, the genetic defect responsible for these diseases can be corrected.
The researchers, who named this gene "Chaserr," assumed that it plays an important role, since it was conserved throughout evolution from fish to humans.
The team investigated why these genes are located near DNA areas involved in protein production control and found that they take part in regulating the protein production and other processes necessary for normal neurological function.
The researchers created engineered mice without the Chaserr gene and found that they died soon after birth or suffered developing problems, which indicates that the role of the gene is essential.
It was then found that Chaserr makes sure that a nearby gene, called Chd2, produces protein at proper levels.
With the lack of Chaserr, excessive amounts of protein are produced, which disrupts protein production in hundreds of locations in the genome.
On the other hand, reduced expression of Chd2 is exactly the genetic defect identified in people who suffer from epilepsy and autism.
Therefore, this finding may lead to a solution in the form of a small molecule that blocks Chaserr and thus loosens its hold on the Chd2 gene, raising its expression to normal levels and correcting the genetic defect. Enditem