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Brain cells change their own DNA inducing Alzheimer's disease

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04.12.2018

Contrary to most cells present in our bodies, neurons located in the brain are capable of "shuffling" their own genes - such discovery was made by researchers in their landmark study.These changes may differentiate proteins present in the brain which, in turn, is conducive to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

"It is potentially one of the greatest discoveries in molecular biology in years", states Geoffrey Faulkner, a molecular biologist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, who was not linked to the research.

"It is a groundbreaking study", agrees Christos Proukakis, a clinical neurologist at University College London.

Scientists first discovered it that specific cells may both shuffle and edit their own DNA as early as in the 1970's.Certain immune cells cut out sections of genes that code for proteins being able to detect or fight pathogens, while new varieties are formed through the merging of such fragments.

The scientists noticed that those cases of genomic shuffling (also known as "somatic recombination") occur in the human brain.Neurons often tend to be considerably different from one another.They may often have more DNA or other genetic sequences when compared to the cells that surround them.A new analysis shows that particular neurons appear to carry not one or two variants of the APP gene, but thousands of them.The researchers also found that the neurons of patients affected by Alzheimer's disease contained approximately six times more varieties of the APP gene.Among the changes in the neurons of individuals suffering from Alzheimer's disease there were 11 mutations that accompany rare and inherited forms of the disease.

Source: technologyreview.com

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