22 December 2008

Long Memories and Obsessive Behaviours FKBP

Reducing the activity of a gene called FKBP12 in the brains of mice affected neuron-to-neuron communication (synapse) and increased both fearful memory and obsessive behavior, indicating the gene could provide a target for drugs to treat diseases such as autism spectrum disorder, obsessive-compulsive disease and others, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston _SD
We are what our brains make us, but our brains are what our genes + environment makes us. People with lower expression of FKBP 12 protein may have longer memories, but at the expense of more fear, anxiety, and compulsion. At least, Baylor University studies in mice suggest such an effect of genetic biodiversity in rodents.
The protein FKBP12 regulates several important cell signaling pathways, and decreasing its activity enhances long-term potentiation in the hippocampus, said Dr. Susan Hamilton, chair of molecular physiology and biophysics at BCM and a senior author of the report. (Long-term potentiation means the enhancement of the synapse or communication between neurons.)

It accomplishes this by fine-tuning a particular pathway called mTOR signaling (mammalian target of rapamycin). The mice in whose brains the activity of the gene was reduced had longer memories and were more likely to exhibit repetitive behaviors than normal mice. _SD
The effect of FKBP12 protein may be mediated at least in part via mitochondrial efficiency.

Gene expression exerts a powerful affect on humans and other animals from the very earliest stages of development. Scientists at Hebrew University-Hadassah have elaborated the effect of gene G9a on specialisation of early pluripotent cells into differentiated cell types. More on basic action of G9a in gene expression.

It is futile to attempt to completely separate the impact of an organisms environment from gene expression. But it is just as futile to attempt to separate gene expression from an organism's (and human's) behaviour. Ideological adherents of the "Blank Slate" hypothesis are being forced into a very tight logical corner. And because such Blank Slatists control large areas of government, universities, and the media across North America and Europe, expect some extremely erratic and dysfunctional behaviour from them as their cause falls into greater disrepute.

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