Gene linked to common intellectual disability

Posted on November 16, 2013

University of Adelaide researchers have taken a step forward in unravelling the causes of a commonly inherited intellectual disability, finding that a genetic mutation leads to a reduction in certain proteins in the brain.

ARX is among the top four types of intellectual disability linked to the X-chromosome in males. So far, 115 families, including many large Australian families, have been discovered to carry an ARX (Aristaless related homeobox) mutation that gives rise to intellectual disability.

"There is considerable variation in the disability across families, and within families with a single mutation. Symptoms among males always include intellectual disability, as well as a range of movement disorders of the hand, and in some cases severe seizures," says Associate Professor Cheryl Shoubridge, Head of Molecular Neurogenetics with the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute.

In laboratory studies, Associate Professor Shoubridge's team has shown that mutations lead to a significant reduction in ARX proteins in the brain, but the actual causes and mechanisms involved in this remain unknown. Her team tested six genes that the ARX protein interacts with, and found that one of them - a gene likely to be important to early brain development - appears to be adversely affected by the reduction of ARX proteins.

"This plays an important role in setting up architecture and networks in the brain, which become disrupted due to the mutation", Associate Professor Shoubridge says.

Category(s):Intellectual Disability

Source material from University if Adelaide

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