Schizophrenia Development Linked to Disturbed Cleaved Protein

Schizophrenia Development Linked to Disturbed Cleaved Protein
The cause for the development of schizophrenia has been identified by VIB researchers connected to the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
The scientists say that a disturbed cleavage of the Nrg-1 protein lies at the basis of the development of the disease.

Greater understanding of this molecular process is a first step toward improved diagnosis and more effective treatment of schizophrenia and other related disorders.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that disturbs the person's thinking, emotional life, and behavior.

The disease is characterized by episodes of psychotic symptoms: abnormal ideas and changes in perception, behavior and thinking occur, through which it is difficult to understand how the person feels. Typical symptoms of the disorder are: delusions, hallucinations, chaotic behavior, etc.

Previous scientific studies have shown that a disturbed functioning of the Nrg-1 protein is linked to the development of the disease.

Now, the latest research results obtained by Tim Dejaegere and his colleagues reveal how the functioning of Nrg-1 becomes disturbed.

The Nrg-1 protein - an essential factor in the development and proper functioning of our nervous system and, consequently, in the functioning of our brain - can carry out its function properly only after it has been cleaved in the right way.

This cleavage is the responsibility of a molecular 'scissors' called Aph1B/C-gamma-secretase.

When this scissors is absent, Nrg-1 is not cleaved, which leads to behavioral disturbances in laboratory animals that bear a striking similarity to some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

This syndrome can be corrected by administering anti-psychotic medicines.

Additional studies have also shown that a genetic alteration near the site of Nrg-1 cleavage, which was detected in schizophrenia patients and which increases the risk of this disease, results in incorrect cleavage of Nrg-1 by the gamma-secretase.

The researchers have suggested that a disturbed cleavage of Nrg-1 plays a crucial role in the development of schizophrenia and other related psychiatric disorders.

This discovery is a new step forward in the quest for improved diagnosis and targeted treatment of the disease.


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