Scientists in the U.S. have uncovered the part played by a tiny, gene-ontrolling snippet of RNA in Parkinson's disease.
They have shown that a microRNA sequence, which suppresses certain genes, is linked to the death of brain cells in fruit flies.
Bingwei Lu, a neuroscientist at Stanford University in California, and his team studied a gene called LRRK2, reports New Scientist.
A mutant form of LRRK2, common in Jews of European descent and people from north Africa, is known to be involved in the development of Parkinson's, but exactly how was unclear.
Lu and colleagues found that fruit flies with the mutant form of LRRK2 also had a disrupted microRNA pathway associated with the gene, and accumulated toxic proteins that killed motor-coordinating neurons in the brain.
Adding the microRNA back in helped to correct this process.
The study appears in the journal Nature.