November 29, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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Leuven's team determines which piece of DNA is used for each Drosophila brain cell

Leuven’s team determines which piece of DNA is used for each Drosophila brain cell

“Of course, our results provide a starting point for a much more detailed genetic analysis in fruit flies, not only in a spatial sense, but also in time,” said Ayrts. “About two-thirds of the networks we identified are linked in some way to brain abnormalities or human disease. So it will be important to further research the role of gene-regulatory processes in this. That’s why we have all the data online.” It was made available so that other researchers could work with it.”

The technique can also be applied to human brain cells and the team has already started using it.

“Of course we have very large brains in humans, we have 80 billion brain cells or maybe more in humans compared to ‘only’ 200,000″ in Drosophila. For example, we have to make choices in the areas we want to analyze first but we will apply the same method to donors, Both healthy people and people who died of Parkinson’s disease.” “We hope to be able to determine which parts of the DNA are used in which brain cells.”

In human beings, between two people there are 1 or 2 million different differences, and with this technique we can tell which differences play a role in which cells and whether they play a role in the brain, in the heart or in the muscles, Ayers said.

The next step is to use these models to map variants of disease or to map risk profiles, but in particular to learn the mechanisms of how DNA in a normal cell is encoded to express the right genes, and how this can go wrong. , for example in neurodegenerative diseases or in cancer, says Ayrts.

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“Given the pace at which these new technologies are being developed and deployed, it is only a matter of time before we can unravel the genetic networks of human cells in a similar way, which we can then use in gene therapy, for example for brain disorders.”