Article, originally posted on SelectScience.net
Researchers have identified a critical new step in how brain cells function in people with one of the most common forms of epilepsy. This could lead to new treatment approaches for people with drug-resistant epilepsy.
The study, published in the journal Brain, was led by researchers at FutureNeuro, the SFI Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological Diseases, hosted by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. Colleagues at Severo Ochoa-Centre for Molecular Biology (CBMSO) of Madrid and Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) of Barcelona were also involved.
Changes in gene activity are known to be important in the development of epilepsy. Normally, a molecule called messenger RNA is produced when a gene is active. This becomes the template for Four production of the proteins that brain cells use to function. A critical step is the addition of a short sequence called a poly(A) tail. This has never been studied before in epilepsy. The team discovered that this tailing process (polyadenylation) is dramatically altered for about one third of the genes of someone with epilepsy, changing protein production in the brain.
“Our discovery adds another piece to the puzzle to help us understand why gene activity is different in someone with epilepsy,” said Dr Tobias Engel, FutureNeuro Investigator and Senior Lecturer in the School of Physiology and Medical Physics at RCSI. “It is remarkable that so many active genes in the brain show a change in this polyadenylation process. We believe that this could ultimately lead us to new targeted treatments, allowing us to investigate if we could stop a person from developing epilepsy.”