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Time-lapse map shows DNA development in growing brain

作者:申墼    发布时间:2017-11-10 08:00:27    

A TIME-LAPSE map of the developing brain could help to identify the cause of some neurological disorders. As mammals develop, chemical tags called methyl groups are added to certain parts of DNA, and this affects how genes are expressed. Such methylation can be influenced by environmental stressors like diet and disease. To investigate this process, Ryan Lister at the University of Western Australia in Crawley and colleagues studied nine human brains from fetuses up to adults. They created a map showing how methylation changes in the frontal cortex over time. During the first two years of life, they found that a wave of methylation alters the DNA in genes involved in forming connections between neurons (Science, doi.org/m5p). Schahram Akbarian at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester, says that such maps may help to explain why the brain is particularly vulnerable at certain stages of its development. For instance, why the anti-epileptic drug valproate, which alters methylation, increases the risk of autism in children when it is taken during pregnancy. The next step is to study brains from people with mental disorders to spot any unusual methylation. This article appeared in print under the headline “DNA map shows rewire puts brain at risk” More on these topics:

 

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