Neurogenetics Lab Scan Suggests Genetic Linkage On Chromosomes 4 And 11

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Jeffrey C. Long, Ph.D., David Goldman, M.D., and coworkers in the Laboratory of Neurogenetics, Division of Intramural Clinical and Biological Research, NIAAA, report in this month's Neuropsychiatric Genetics (Volume 81, Number 3) highly suggestive evidence in one region of chromosome 11 and good evidence in one region of chromosome 4 for linkage to alcohol dependence (commonly termed alcoholism) risk. Consistent with findings from an independent NIAAA-supported genome scan reported in the same journal issue, the researchers also identified a chromosome 4 region near the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) gene cluster as suggestive for linkage to alcoholism resistance.

"That independent genome scans in quite different populations suggest linkage in the same region sparks the search for human genes that enhance or reduce alcoholism risk," said NIAAA Director Enoch Gordis, M.D. The human gene search has been a principal research priority under Dr. Gordis' leadership. "Especially because alcoholism involves the interaction of multiple genes and environmental factors that can differ among ethnic groups, families, and even individuals within a family, progress to this point is impressive. The logical next step is conclusive evidence for linkage, followed by high-resolution mapping to determine which of the hundreds of genes in this region are protective," he said.

Dr. Long and laboratory chief David Goldman, M.D., described a finding on the distal short arm of chromosome 11 as most striking in their southwest American Indian population. Genes implicated in neurotransmission previously have been identified on a short arm of chromosome 11, including the DRD4 dopamine receptor gene recently associated with novelty-seeking in Israelis and Euroamericans. Also on the short arm of chromosome 11 are the tyrosine hydroxylase gene involved in dopamine biosynthesis, and the tryptophan hydroxylase gene involved in serotonin biosynthesis.

Contact: NIAAA Press Officer
NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

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