Nav: Home

Complex brain circuitry revealed using new single-cell sequencing technology

July 05, 2018

PHOENIX, Ariz., and Menlo Park, Calif. -- June 28, 2018 -- The complexity of the human brain presents scientists with immense challenges as they try to find new treatments for a host of diseases and conditions. But the advent of a new technology known as single-cell RNA sequencing is opening a window into how the brain works.

Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and a Silicon Valley startup called Circuit Therapeutics Inc. have combined to look deep inside the brain at a structure known as the striatum, which not only is responsible for controlling how we move, but also contributes to the brain's decision-making and the initiation of action.

Nearly 95 percent of the cells that make up the striatum are known as medium spiny neurons (MSN), whose health or malfunction is associated with many psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, schizophrenia, drug addition and ADHD.

In one of the first investigations of its kind, TGen and Circuit Therapeutics have developed exacting methods for examining these MSN cells, and in the process identified a specific gene known as Chrm4 as one of several potential therapeutic drug targets, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.

"Understanding the molecular composition and gene expression of individual MSN cells are of critical importance to gaining insights into how they work and how we can identify drug targets to treat neurological dysfunctions," said Dr. Matt Huentelman, TGen Professor of Neurogenomics. "In this study, we analyzed and simplified methods for isolating single MSN cells in the striatum, using newly available technology to examine them with unprecedented resolution."

By using single-cell RNA sequencing, the team redefined previous understandings of how MSN cells work, and added to the list of MSN marker genes previously discovered using older technologies that analyzed gene expression by studying bulk portions of striatal tissue.

"Understanding the molecular properties of neural circuitry in the brain is of great interest to neuroscience drug discovery," said Dr. Thomas Portmann, Director of Neurobiology and Transcriptomics at Circuit Therapeutics Inc. "Being able to understand how individual cells form key neural circuits is rapidly advancing our knowledge about the molecular signatures of the brain, and about druggable targets for development of future therapies."
-end-
The study -- A Guide to Single-Cell Transcriptomics in Adult Rodent Brain: The Medium Spiny Neuron Transcriptome Revisited -- published June 15 in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.

About TGen

Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes, and infectious diseases, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and cancer and diabetes treatment center: http://www.cityofhope.org. This precision medicine affiliation enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. For more information, visit: http://www.tgen.org. Follow TGen on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.

Media Contact:

Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
602-343-8704
syozwiak@tgen.org

About Circuit Therapeutics Inc.

Circuit Therapeutics Circuit Therapeutics is the world leader in optogenetics -- a transformational technology that gives researchers and clinicians the ability to control neural activity with light. Optogenetics enables unparalleled specificity and temporal control of neural circuits, and has allowed Circuit to create an unrivaled platform for discovery and validation of novel drug targets. Founded by Karl Deisseroth, Rob Malenka, Scott Delp, Thomas Sudhof, and Karoly Nikolich, Circuit Therapeutics is based in Menlo Park, California. For more information, please visit http://www.circuittx.com

Media Contact:

Dana Carnes
Director of Operations
(650) 543-1441
dcarnes@circuittx.com

The Translational Genomics Research Institute

Related Neurodegenerative Diseases Articles:

Researchers identify link between birth defect and neurodegenerative diseases
A new study has found a link between neurological birth defects in infants commonly found in pregnant women with diabetes and several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases.
High school football players, 1956-1970, did not have increase of neurodegenerative diseases
A Mayo Clinic study published online today in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that varsity football players from 1956 to 1970 did not have an increased risk of degenerative brain diseases compared with athletes in other varsity sports.
Researchers reveal how neurodegenerative diseases spread through the brain
Synapses, the place where brain cells contact one another, play a pivotal role in the transmission of toxic proteins.
Untangling a cause of memory loss in neurodegenerative diseases
In mice genetically engineered to mimic aspects of human tauopathy disorders, the researchers restored some of the learning and memory deficits by blocking caspase-2 activity, which suggests that some of the cognitive loss seen in tauopathies might be reversible.
New impetus for treatment neurodegenerative diseases
Twenty years ago, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) seemed a promising target in the treatment of brain diseases like multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer's Disease.
Study demonstrates role of gut bacteria in neurodegenerative diseases
Research has revealed that exposure to bacterial proteins called amyloid that have structural similarity to brain proteins may lead to an increase in clumping of proteins in the brain.
How do the bugs in your gut affect neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases?
A growing body of scientific and medical evidence continues to shed light on the complex interaction between metabolic pathways affected by microrganisms living in the human gut and gene expression, immune function, and inflammation that can contribute to a range of cognitive, psychiatric, and neurodegenerative disorders.
Antioxidant therapies may help in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases
A new review examines the potential of antioxidant approaches for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and multiple sclerosis.
Promising results with new gene therapy approach for treating inherited neurodegenerative diseases
A new gene therapy approach designed to replace the enzyme that is deficient in patients with the inherited neurodegenerative disorders Tay-Sachs and Sandhoff diseases successfully delivered the therapeutic gene to the brains of treated mice, restored enzyme function, and extended survival by about 2.5-fold.
Could a new class of fungicides play a role in autism, neurodegenerative diseases?
Scientists at the UNC School of Medicine have found a class of commonly used fungicides that produce gene expression changes similar to those in people with autism and neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease.

Related Neurodegenerative Diseases Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Bias And Perception
How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us. Guests include writer and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, climatologist J. Marshall Shepherd, journalist Andreas Ekström, and experimental psychologist Tony Salvador.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#513 Dinosaur Tails
This week: dinosaurs! We're discussing dinosaur tails, bipedalism, paleontology public outreach, dinosaur MOOCs, and other neat dinosaur related things with Dr. Scott Persons from the University of Alberta, who is also the author of the book "Dinosaurs of the Alberta Badlands".