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Study reveals patterns of gene activity in the mouse nervous system

The first published data from a government-funded project provide remarkable new insights into where specific genes are active in the mouse nervous system during development and adulthood. Information from this project will advance researchers' understanding of how particular genes function in the brain and spinal cord, leading to insights about how the nervous system works. It also may lead to new ways of preventing or treating disorders such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, psychiatric disorders, and drug addiction.

Data from the project, called the Gene Expression Nervous System Atlas, or GENSAT, are reported in the October 30, 2003, issue of Nature. GENSAT is one of the first large-scale efforts to look at where specific genes are expressed, or translated into proteins, in the brain and spinal cord. The project builds on earlier efforts such as the Human Genome Project by helping investigators understand not only which genes are critical in the nervous system, but also what those genes do. All of the information from the project is publicly available to other researchers. The project is funded by the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

"This paper presents the first fruits of a very ambitious project to map gene expression onto the anatomy of the mouse brain. We believe that this information will facilitate investigations in the function of the normal and diseased brain," says Story C. Landis, Ph.D., director of NINDS.

"With this project, we can generate extremely high-resolution information about gene expression. Looking at these genes at different points during development allows us to formulate hypotheses about gene function. It also directs us to previously unidentified genes that are interesting in the nervous system and allows us to visualize their expression in living tissue," says principal investigator Nathaniel Heintz, Ph.D., of The Rockefeller University in New York.

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Contact: Marian Emr or Margo Warren
301-496-5924
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
29-Oct-2003


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