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New signaling pathway found, may be linked to movement disorders

he animals' brains. When they disabled the gene for FGF14, the team had ensured that a fraction of the protein remained intact and replaced the rest with a protein that appears blue when exposed to certain chemicals.

This marker molecule revealed that FGF14 was primarily found in three regions of the mouse nervous system: the cerebellum and basal ganglia in the brain and the motor tracts of the spinal cord. All three areas are involved in regulating movement. The basal ganglia, in particular, are affected by Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders.

Also surprisingly, FGF14 fragments also showed up in the long projectionsthe axonsof the nerve cells.

"This tells us that FGF14 recognizes the machinery that transports material down the axon to the area of the synapse, where nerve impulses jump from one neuron to the next," says Ornitz.

What it does at the synapse is a question Ornitz plans to investigate next. He speculates that FGF14 could signal the formation or release of neurotransmitters, modulate electrical signals or mechanisms that transport electrical signals or regulate the transport of molecules down the axon.

"Any number of things are possible," he says.

One thing is certain, though. "It's pretty clear now that FGF14 is not a growth factor," he says.


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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
wardd@msnotes.wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
11-Jul-2002


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