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article imageIs schizophrenia triggered by 'jumping genes'?

By Tim Sandle     Jan 11, 2014 in Science
A science group has found evidence that transposable elements, also known as jumping genes, may contribute to the development of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by impaired emotional responses. Common symptoms include delusions, such as paranoid beliefs; hallucinations and disorganized thinking. Because schizophrenia often runs in families, this suggests that the condition has an underlying genetic basis (with social and environmental factors also contributing).
Genetic sequences called transposable elements (TEs) that can jump from chromosome to chromosome, increasing their own frequency in the genome, may play a role in the development of the psychiatric disorder.
The basis of the research is that human neural cells are rich in a common transposable element called L1. The research team found that higher levels of L1 correlated with the occurrence of brain disorders. By carrying out studies in mice and varying levels of L1, the researchers showed causality between genetic elements and mental disorders. This paves the way for further studies, according to Science Now.
The research has been conducted by the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan. The findings have been published in the journal Neuron, in a paper titled "Increased L1 Retrotransposition in the Neuronal Genome in Schizophrenia."
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