Disturbed cleaved protein behind schizophrenia development

July 15th, 2008 - 12:41 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, July 15 (ANI): VIB researchers connected to the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven have identified the cause for the development of schizophrenia.

The scientists say that a disturbed cleavage of the Nrg-1 protein lies at the basis of the development of the disease.

Greater understanding of this molecular process is a first step toward improved diagnosis and more effective treatment of schizophrenia and other related disorders.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that disturbs the person’’s thinking, emotional life, and behavior.

The disease is characterized by episodes of psychotic symptoms: abnormal ideas and changes in perception, behavior and thinking occur, through which it is difficult to understand how the person feels. Typical symptoms of the disorder are: delusions, hallucinations, chaotic behavior, etc.

Previous scientific studies have shown that a disturbed functioning of the Nrg-1 protein is linked to the development of the disease.

Now, the latest research results obtained by Tim Dejaegere and his colleagues reveal how the functioning of Nrg-1 becomes disturbed.

The Nrg-1 protein - an essential factor in the development and proper functioning of our nervous system and, consequently, in the functioning of our brain - can carry out its function properly only after it has been cleaved in the right way.

This cleavage is the responsibility of a molecular ‘’scissors” called Aph1B/C-gamma-secretase.

When this scissors is absent, Nrg-1 is not cleaved, which leads to behavioral disturbances in laboratory animals that bear a striking similarity to some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

This syndrome can be corrected by administering anti-psychotic medicines.

Additional studies have also shown that a genetic alteration near the site of Nrg-1 cleavage, which was detected in schizophrenia patients and which increases the risk of this disease, results in incorrect cleavage of Nrg-1 by the gamma-secretase.

The researchers have suggested that a disturbed cleavage of Nrg-1 plays a crucial role in the development of schizophrenia and other related psychiatric disorders.

This discovery is a new step forward in the quest for improved diagnosis and targeted treatment of the disease. (ANI)

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