Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Researchers Uncover Nerve Cell Communication Clues

Article excerpt

Researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have discovered the function of one gene critical to proper nerve signaling.

The findings, made by OMRF's Stacey Edwards and Kenneth Miller, are in the latest issue of the Journal of Cell Biology.

Miller, who led the team of researchers, found that a particular gene - known as Rab2 - is critical for nerve cells to make and package signals that mediate communication between neurons. The pathways those signals travel have been linked to depression, schizophrenia and sleep disorders.

"That doesn't mean we've found a treatment for those diseases," Miller said. "But what we have now is a clearer picture of how nerve cells work when things are going right. This is just a piece of the puzzle of how nerve signaling works. Putting the rest of the puzzle together with further research will give us an important framework for understanding and rationally addressing human neurological disorders."

Miller said it's a common perception that the Human Genome Project revealed everything there is to know about human genes, but in reality it just identified all of the genes in the human genome.

"The functions of at least 40 percent of the genes are still a mystery," he said. …