• Tag: gene

Epigenetic modifications in the FKBP5 geneJune 11, 2013

Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adulthood seems to be caused by the interaction of childhood trauma with the genome. Considering that epigenetic modifications of DNA are the usual way to generate permanent or transient alterations in gene expression, scientists at the Max Plank Institute investigated the role of a novel polymorphism in the FKBP5 gene.

FK506 binding protein 5 is involved in a negative feedback loop that regulates glucocorticoid receptor activity. Thus, changes in FKBP5 gene expression could perturb the stress response because glucocorticoids are mainly released in stress condition. The polymorphism has been identified in the intron 2 of the FKBP5 gene in adults who suffer of PTSD, only if they had suffered abuse during childhood.

Thus, scientists supposed that there was a sensitive period during which abused children with the risk allele were mainly vulnerable to permanent epigenetic changes and, so, to predisposition to the stress induced disorders in adulthood. Consistent with this, trauma that occurred during adulthood did not alter methylation in the risk allele. This study has demonstrated how childhood experiences could have an impact on adult diseases and disorders and might help to develop novel therapeutic and diagnostic approaches that keep in consideration also these aspects.

Over-expression of Sfrp5 protein leads to obe...June 28, 2012

Scientists at the University of Michigan explained why fat-storing cells get fatter, and burn fat slower, as obesity sets in. If their findings from mice can be shown to apply to humans, they may provide a new target for obesity-fighting drugs.

Scientists have shown surprising role for a molecule called Sfrp5 or soluble frizzled-related protein 5 that regulates WNT signaling pathway. In a series of experiments, the team showed that Sfrp5 influences WNT to stimulate fat cells – called adipocytes – to grow larger and to suppress the rate at which fat is burned in the mitochondria inside them.

They created a line of transgenic mice that do not produce Sfrp5 protein and found that these mice didn’t get as fat as the control wild type animals. The reason of that is that adipocytes of Sfrp5 KO mice did not grow large even when the mice were fed a high-fat diet.

It has been known that WNT signaling is involved in fat cell development. WNT signaling plays a crucial role inhibiting white fat cell growth. Sfrp5 can protein can bind WNT receptor Frizzled protein and interfere with that signaling. They and other teams had already seen that the amounts of Sfrp5 produced within fat tissue were higher in strains of obese animals.

They were able to breed mice that could not make the molecule, and expected to see that these mice resisted obesity because they couldn’t convert more cells into adipocytes to store excess fat from their high-fat diet.

But instead, they found that the mice without Sfrp5 did have just as many fat cells as other mice – but that these cells didn’t accumulate fat and grow bigger. As a result, the mice didn’t get fat, no matter how rich their diet.

Looking more closely at Sfrp5-deficient mice, they saw a surge of activity in expression of genes related to mitochondria – the furnaces inside cells that burn fat or other fuel to power cell activity. It was as if the furnaces had been stoked when Sfrp5 wasn’t present, so fat could be burned at a higher rate than normal.

The new findings suggest that WNT signaling pathway could be a target for anti-obesity drugs.

Freezer failure that ruined 10-year long proj...June 26, 2012

Recently, a laboratory low temperature freezer was mishandled at Utah State University that caused lose of a decade of scientific research.

The ultra-low-temperature freezer contained both animal and human tissues that were part of a long-term cancer study at College of Agriculture. Professor and senior researcher Roger A. Coulombe, director of USU’s graduate toxicology program, said dozens of valuable biological samples were ruined when the freezer was left turned off. For many years, Coulombe’s freezer and lab were located in the Animal Science Building but were recently relocated to the newly constructed Agriculture Sciences Building. Coulombe said the freezer was transferred across campus without incident, but in a last-minute shuffle, the freezer was moved a second time to a different room in the same lab where it was plugged in but left switched off overnight.

Toxicology researcher Bunderson discovered the freezer when the temperature was already too high to safely preserve the genetic material inside. The work of eight people was jeopardized by the loss of the 9-years-long experiments.

The freezer normally maintains an internal temperature of around minus 80 degrees Celsius, which is necessary to maintain the quality of the samples inside.

Researchers at USU have discovered a rare genetic mutation in the DNA of turkeys that has been shown to increase the animals’ susceptibility to certain diet-related carcinogens. The mutation silences the effect of a naturally occurring enzyme that helps protect against the development of liver cancer in the birds. By identifying the mutation in the turkey DNA, researchers may have a better understanding of potential warning signs in other animals, including humans.

The tissue banks and collections of frozen DNA inside the freezer were the work of dozens of students and technicians from different disciplines over the course of many years. Every sample inside has been destroyed because the internal temperature increased so dramatically.

“The basis of much of our work is to correlate enzyme activity with gene sequence, both of which we have determined are sensitive to temperatures higher than minus 80 degrees,” he said. “Good science demands properly handled research samples.”

Some samples might still be usable, but it’s doubtful since in scientific research all data are considered unreliable if they cannot be reproduced by independent team using same biological materials, which becomes impossible when samples are gone.

Even moderate changes in temperature inside the laboratory freezer make experimental results unreliable. Forming ice crystals puncture cells that allows molecules to react with each other when the sample is thawed.

“This is a human error,” said Cockett. “A mistake happened and a lot of people were involved.”

Vitale says an insurance claim is in the works through the state’s division of risk management for between $650,000 and $1 million to compensate for the lost samples. It’s still unclear how much will be approved and, as of last week, Vitale says the claim is still under investigation.
In the meantime, Dave Cowley, vice president of business and finance, advanced Coulombe’s team $100,000 to jump-start a process to recreate the lost samples. Coulombe says he’ll use the money to begin replenishing the tissue banks and will likely have to hire additional staff to repeat years of experiments. In all, he says, about $2 million in federal grant money was invested in the samples.

Freezer mishaps are rare, and the companies that manufacture the machines say they can provide safe and reliable sample storage for 30 years. But errors happen, and lifetimes of work are at stake if the deep freezers malfunction or are mismanaged.

A similar incident occurred last month at Harvard University when a freezer failure at the school’s Brain Tissue Resource Center damaged 93 human brains that had been donated for autism research. A spokesperson for the center said the material was a “priceless collection,” and Harvard officials say an investigation is under way to discover what happened with the freezer.

One of Cockett’s own freezers was inadvertently switched off several years ago after a lab technician misused the control panel. Cockett said the person mistakenly thought turning the key meant locking the freezer lid when, in fact, it shut the unit completely down.

USU’s office of risk management has now implemented the use of a safety net to mitigate against future freezer failures. Campuswide, lab freezers are now connected to the Internet and can alert their users via electronic message when internal temperatures exceed a predetermined value.

The question now is how quickly Coulombe’s researchers can duplicate their results with less time and fewer resources than they’ve had over the years. “It’s a disruption of significant proportions to us,” Coulombe said. “We were part-way through a lot of projects, but it jeopardizes our progress because we can’t take planned steps to bring these studies to completion.”

Coulombe said he’ll make sure his students get the opportunity to finish their academic programs but believes it could take two years of backtracking to get his research back on schedule. Moving his life’s work from his old lab to a new building, he said, turned out to be a nearly seamless transition.

“A 1,000-mile journey happened perfectly,” he said. “But at the last step around the corner, someone stubbed their toe, so to speak.”

Transgenic animals in preclinical studiesJune 22, 2012

Genetically modified animals have become the most valuable tools in the study of diseases and for the assessment of new drugs. Experiments with these animals produce valuable information about the role of specific genes in biological processes and diseases.

The first transgenic mouse was created in 1974 at MIT. It was created through in vitro micro-injection of Simian virus 40 into mouse blastocysts and early embryonic infection with retrovirus. The technology to create transgenic animals broke new ground in the scientific community and enabled scientists to seek new ways of treating diseases and developing new drugs. The ability to introduce new genetic information into the germ line of complex organisms has completely changed and enhanced the study of all aspects of biologic processes.

Transgenic mouse models in toxicology have primarily been used to screen drugs for carcinogenicity and to understand the mechanisms of toxicity. These mouse models can reliably predict the carcinogenic potential of compounds and significantly reduce the risk of using these drugs in clinics to treat human diseases.

When tested in a single assay, however, transgenic models often produce false positive and false negative results and typically are unable to identify all known human carcinogens. Use of short-term experiments on transgenic mice in combination with two-year chronic studies on rats could increase the overall accuracy of detecting carcinogens and non-carcinogens. Testing new drugs using different species also reduces false results. Additional advantages of using transgenic assays include reduced duration of studies, conservative use of animals, and lower cost relative to a traditional two-year rodent chronic toxicity study.

Women can see more colors then menJune 19, 2012

An average person can perceive a million different colors.Our power of color vision derives from cells in our eyes called cones. There three types of cones each triggered by different wave lengths of light. Every moment our eyes are open, those three flavors of cones fire off messages to the brain. The brain then combines the signals to produce the sensation of light and color.

Vision is complex, but the calculus of color is strangely simple. Each cone confers the ability to distinguish the ability to distinguish around a hundred of shades, so the total number of combinations is at least 100e3, or a million. Take one type of cones away (go from what scientists call a trichromate to a dichromate) and the number of possible combinations drops a factor of 100, to 10000. Almost all other mammals, including dogs and monkeys, are dichromates. The richness of the world we see is rivaled only by that of birds and some insects, which also perceive the UV spectrum.

Researchers suspect,though, that some people see even more. Living among us are people with four types of cones, who might experience a range of colors invisible to the rest of us. It’s possible these tetrachromates see a hundred million colors, with each familiar hue fractioning into hundred more subtle shades for which there are no names, no paint swatches. And because perceiving color is a personal experience, they would have no way to of knowing they see far beyond what we consider the limits of human vision.

Over the course of two decades, Newcastle University neuroscientist Gabrielle Jordan and her colleagues have been searching for people endowed with this supervision. Two years ago, Jordan finally found one. A doctor living in Northern England, referred to as only cDa29 in the literature, is the first tetrachromat known to science. She is almost surely not the last one…

A recent paper by Kimberly Jameson, Susan Highnote and Linda Wasserman of the University of California, San Diego, showed that up to 50 % of women carry 4 types of iodopsins and can employ their extra pigments in “contextually rich viewing circumstances”.

For example, when looking at a rainbow, these females can segment it into about 10 different colors, while trichromat (with three iodopsins) people can see just seven: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. For tetrachromat women, green was found to be assigned in emerald, jade, verdant, olive, lime, bottle and 34 other shades.

Dark MatterJune 15, 2012

Gravitation is a property of all matter. The more mass an object has, the stronger its attractive force. Sounds simple enough. However, our current understanding of gravity does not explain the distribution and interactions of visible objects in the universe suggesting the existence of invisible matter.

Physicists have invented the hypothetical substance and called it dark matter. The presence of dark matter can only be detected based on the gravitational effects it has on visible objects. Scientists think that most of the Universe’s mass is made up of dark matter.

Most scientists postulate that dark matter is made up of the theoretical MACHO and WIMP particles. MACHOs (Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Objects) are thought to be made up of normal matter, and are the main component in black holes and brown dwarf stars, both of which cannot be seen but can be detected via their gravitational effects.

WIMPs are composed of particles smaller than atoms and that are made up of a unique type of matter known as non-baryonic matter. According to physicists, WIMPS pass through normal, baryonic matter undetected and are probably moving through you right now. Despite dark matter’s supposed abundance, astronomers and particle physicists have yet to pin down either a MACHO or a WIMP.

Noninvasive technology of whole fetal genome...June 12, 2012

Scientists developed a new noninvasive approach to sequence whole genome of a fetus and identify DNA mutations in it. The DNA used for the sequencing is isolated from the 18.5-week-pregnant mother and saliva from the father. They then used a technique known as deep sequencing to analyze hundreds of samples of fetal DNA from the mother’s blood.

After working out which parts of the fetal DNA came from the mother and father, it was possible to see which bits were unique to the fetus, and use the information to piece together its genome. The team sequenced the child genome again after birth to assess the accuracy of their fetal genome technique. Overall, the genome they pieced together was 98 per cent accurate. The average fetus had 44 new mutations, of which the team managed to spot 39.

The technology can detect DNA mutations that may cause over 3000 diseases. However, fetal sequencing faces the same problems as any other genome sequencing: researchers are limited in their ability to tell whether any given mutation will actually cause a specific disease. The rate of correctly predicting a child’s chance of having a disease is still too low to be useful in the clinic.

It may be at least five years before the test reaches the clinic. By then, the price of the technology should decrease. Today, this sequencing costs about $50,000 to perform.

“The fact that it’s still far in the future is good,” Shendure says considering the legal and ethical complications of parents having the ability to see every disease and trait their child will have before the child is born.

Autistic brain is different from normal brainJune 8, 2012

People with autism have brains that are really good at some but not at other things. They often have an unusual aptitude for structured tasks like math computations, but their brains struggle with social studies, literature and philosophy, where logic and rules aren’t so obvious.

Mr. Hudale was misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic in 1985 at age 13. Recently he was diagnosed with autism. He lets scientists studying his brain to help understand autism.

His intelligence and curiosity about what was going on in his own brain made him a great candidate for research studies. He embraced the idea of being a study subject and let researchers do study autism on himself.

In 1980s there was no way to monitor the activity of the brain and scientists considered the human brain unapproachable. How do we know if, how and what a person is thinking? In the late 80s and early 90s it became possible to image brain activity with the invention of functional MRI and PET scans that allowed displaying active parts of the brain when people see pictures or read words or think about certain things. Using MRI, scientists have shown how the brain of a typical and autistic person is different.

Scans of people without autism have showed that in a typical brain, the activity in frontal areas is synchronized with the activity in posterior areas. In contrast, people with autism did not have that synchrony that became most clear when people with autism did mental tasks in the MRI scanner.

Combining visual and emotional information requires areas in the front of the brain to communicate instantly with areas in the back of the brain. And that’s what you see in someone with a typical brain.

But in the autistic brain there would be less communication and coordination. Indeed, people with autism often pay less attention to faces and have difficulty reading emotions in them. It appears that the problem is in the fiber tracts that connect key areas in the front of the brain to key areas in the back. The connections just weren’t good enough.

It helps to think of the brain as being a bit like the Internet. The Internet would be nothing without cabling and wi-fi that allow computers connect to each other and get information back and forth quickly.

The “underconnectivity theory” of autism attracted some skepticism, but recent evidence supports the theory. For example, a new type of scan that shows the fiber tracts connecting various parts of the brain confirms that some of the tracts are less robust in people with autism. A study of dyslexia has shown that when people do mental exercises that use certain fiber tracts, the connections get stronger.

Shoes made of genetically modified stingraysJune 5, 2012

The scientists in Taiwan have spent the last decade raising stingrays and using the animals’ leather to produce shoes. Last year, they successfully manipulated stingray’s DNA and created a variety of transgenic stingray lines to produce different leather colorations. Now they offer a service to produce stingrays that have specific pattern on the skin per customer’s specific order.

According to Rayfish Footwear’s site:
“Rayfish Footwear uses a patented process of bio-customization, which allows you to design your own living, transgenic stingray. Using the DNA on file in our genetic library, you can combine the skin patterns and coloration from dozens of different species. Access the richness of natural selection. Evolve an infinite variety of shoes.

At the Rayfish Footwear labs, nature has already done the design work for us. All we have to do is identify the genes responsible for color and pattern, and implant the synthetic ‘supergene’ cluster into fetal rays before they are born. As the ray grows and matures, it expresses the predetermined patterns on its skin.”

Now that is taking customization to a whole new level!

E-commerce will be available later this year and the shoes will cost around $1,800. One can currently enter a contest to win a free pair of kicks. If you don’t want to enter the contest, you can actually place an order via email, but prepare to spend between $14,800 and $16,200.

The concept is cool yet terrifying at the same time. Would you wear these stingray shoes?

The brain can reprogram itselfMay 29, 2012

Mack’s parents realized shortly after her birth that something was wrong with her.
Ten years ago, at 27 years old, the problem was finally diagnosed. An MRI scan of her brain revealed that Mack was born with only half a brain. Some inner brain structures are remaining, but nearly 95% of the left cortex that controls movement, behavior, cognition and some of the deeper structures that control movement are gone.

The remaining half took over some of the essential functions that are normally done by the left, such as speaking and reading. Michelle has fairly normal language abilities, she can understand instructions. She graduated from high school and has excellent memory for dates. It appears that the right side of her brain had rewired itself to compensate for functions that were lost during a pre-birth stroke.

The doctor who followed her over 10 years said that she improved some intellectual functions. Recovery has not been perfect, however. She has some trouble in visual-spatial processing. Mack still struggles with abstract concepts and becomes easily lost in unfamiliar surroundings.

Her childhood and young adult years were full of frustration. The diagnosis explained why Mack had experienced a difficulty controlling her emotions.

Michelle Mack is now 37 and lives with her mother and father. She works from home doing data entry for her church. She is fairly independent, pays rent and can do most household chores. She realizes she’ll need help for the rest of her life but wanted to tell her story to make it clear that she is not helpless.

“I wanted to do this so people … learn about people like me,” she said, “that I’m normal but have special needs, and that there are a lot people like me, so that they could be more understanding.”

WHEN we eat is just as important as WHAT we e...May 25, 2012

The study published recently in the journal Cell Metabolism showed that it is time and duration of eating but not the amount of food consumed that causes weight gain and obesity. The researchers fed two groups of mice with a high-fat diet – one group was allowed to eat for 8 hours a day, while the other group could eat all the day.

The researchers found that both groups of mice consumed the same amount of food; however, the mice on the restricted eating schedule were protected against obesity and other metabolic illnesses. Mice on a time-restricted eating schedule suffered less liver damage, gained less weight, had reduced levels of inflammation, and showed improvements in their metabolic and physiological rhythms, in addition to other benefits.

According to the scientists, this finding indicates that the health consequences of a high-fat diet may be partially due to a mismatch between our ‘body clocks’ and our eating schedules.

The researchers explain that every organ, such as liver or intestine, has a clock. In other words, each organ works at peak efficiency for only a certain amount of time during the day. The rest of the time they are recovering from the work done.

These metabolic cycles are important for various vital processes, including the breakdown of cholesterol and production of glucose. Certain genes should be turned on during food consumption and turned off during break times or vice versa. The normal activity of metabolic genes can be disrupted when mice or individuals randomly eat throughout the day and night. When we eat randomly, those genes aren’t on completely or off completely.

Similarly, individuals work less efficiently during the day if they did not sleep well during the night.

In recent years our eating patterns have changed. This may be due to the fact that we have greater access to food and tend to stay up later at night.

Results from the study indicate that restricted meal times might help individuals keep off the pounds and should be given more consideration in the fight against obesity.

The focus has been on what people eat. We should also collect data on when people eat.

Sheep that produces fat of wormsMay 1, 2012

Hong Kong scientists have created a genetically modified sheep that expresses a roundworm fat gene that is also found in nuts, seeds, fish and leafy greens and helps reduce the risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease.
According to the scientists, who created the sheep, the baby-sheep is growing very well and looks healthy.
Scientists inserted the gene that is linked to the production of polyunsaturated fatty acids into a donor cell taken from the ear of a Chinese Merino sheep.
The nucleus of the cell was then inserted into denucleated unfertilized egg and implanted into the womb of a surrogate mother-sheep.
The gene that was inserted in the genome of sheep was derived from the roundworm C. elegans, has been shown to increase unsaturated fatty acids in worms and is considered “healthy” for human consumption.
Public concerns about the safety of genetically modified food are taken seriously in China and it will take some years before meat from such transgenic animals appear in Chinese food markets.
“The Chinese government encourages transgenic projects but we need to have better methods and results to prove that transgenic plants and animals are harmless and safe for consumption, that is crucial,” Du said.
The United States is a world leader in producing GM crops. Food and Drug Administration has already approved the sale of food from clones and their offspring, saying the products were indistinguishable from those of non-cloned animals.
U.S. biotech firm AquaBounty patented genetically modified Atlantic salmon is one of the most rapidly growing biotech companies in the USA. Genetically modified salmon is going to appear on the U.S. market as early as this summer.

A protein that senses magnetic fieldApril 27, 2012

Protein called cryptochrome is an ancient protein present in every animal species living on Earth including humans. The protein is involved in the regulation of circadian rhythms and in the navigational skills of several species including migratory birds, monarch butterflies, and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Proteins homologous to cryptochrome are expressed also in bacteria and plants.

The exact molecular mechanism of animals’ navigational abilities still remains a mystery. Recent study published in Nature Communications showed that genetically modified flies lacking their light-sensitive protein cryptochrome lose their sense of magnetic field. Interestingly, replacing the protein with human homologous protein restored the ability. Although humans express cryptochrome in their eyes, no conclusive evidence exists that humans can sense the Earth’s magnetic field.

“I would be very surprised if we don’t have this [magnetic] sense… the issue is to figure out how we use it”- sais Steven Reppert, University of Massachusetts Medical School who has been studying the roles of this protein for a number of years.

“We developed a system to study the real mechanism of magnetosensing in fruit flies… we can put these proteins from other animals [including humans] into the fly and ask, ‘do these proteins in their different forms actually function as magnetoreceptors?’,” said Dr Reppert. “I would be very surprised if we don’t have this sense; it’s used in a variety of other animals. I think that the issue is to figure out how we use it. I think one of the things that put people off accepting the reality of human magnetoreception 20 years ago was the lack of an obvious receptor,” he told BBC News.

Some people may feel the magnetic waves better than the other. It is conceivable that people with extrasensory abilities can decode electromagnetic signals emitted by neurons of other people and read others’ minds.

The origin of new speciesJanuary 31, 2012

Even though Charles Darvin titled his famous book ‘The Origin of Species’, he considered the mechanism of new species’ origin a great mystery. Even now, one of the greatest mysteries of biology is how two groups of animals become genetically incompatible. It is possible to imagine that two groups of animals become separated in space and lose the ability to breed with each other for a long time, gradually adapt to different environmental factors until they lose physical ability to mate even living at the same territory. Development of new species without physical isolation is much more difficult to explain because of free exchange of genetic information between individuals. Even more difficult to comprehend is the fact that changing only one gene may be sufficient to create new biological species.

A gene called Prdm6 was found long time ago as a gene involved in recombination, the process of crossing chromosomes and exchanging DNA regions between paternal and maternal chromosomes in the gonads. The process takes place only during maturation of reproductive cells – spermatozoids and oocytes. The DNA shuffling is the reason why each organism is unique. So far, DNA recombination was not associated with the creation of new species. Scientists found that the protein Prdm6 has several so-called Zn-fingers that are encoded by short DNA repeats called satellite DNA. As satellite DNA is located in hot-spots of DNA recombination, it is frequently mutated and repaired. As the result, Prdm6 protein gets more or less repeats of its Zn-fingers. It appears that the chromosomes that have different variants of the gene cannot properly pair and exchange genetic information during gametogenesis. All animal species have homologous Prdm6 genes. Certain lines of laboratory mice that express different variants of Prdm6 protein cannot produce fertile offspring. Scientists found that different populations of humans also produce Prdm6 proteins with different number of Zn-fingers. It is conceivable that people with certain variants of Prdm6 proteins may not produce fertile children and may develop into a new human species. This process will require selective pressure, either natural or artificial, and many years to develop true new Homo species.

How to grow plants in the cold?January 2, 2012

Everyone takes it as a fact that plants start producing leaves in the spring. What was not known is the molecular mechanism of the phenomenon. To establish the genetic relationship between increased temperature and faster growth, scientists from the U.S. and the UK combined their efforts and have been able to find the genes involved in the process.

Researchers started with the assumption that the warming should affect production of a plant growth hormone auxin. Previous genetic studies showed that inactivation of transcription factor PIF4 causes growth arrest of the plants. Researches managed to tie PIF4, auxin, and the phenomenon of enhanced plant growth. It turned out that transcription factor PIF4 is activated by heat and enhances the synthesis of auxin, which in turn stimulates the growth. It was found also that production of PIF4 transcription factor increases only after prolonged exposure to heat.

The purpose of the gene PIF4 is not clear. It probably serves as a sensor of seasonal changes and tells plant when to grow or shed leaves. Normally, it starts working with the arrival of spring, when the temperature rises. Scientists hope that new genetically modified plants will soon be created that can grow leaves and start biosynthesis earlier in the spring to yield more crops. These experiments will be able to change farming practices.

This knowledge will enable scientists to create more productive domestic plants and counteract the negative effects of global warming.

Gene GluR4 modulates personal social statusOctober 11, 2011

Scientists from the Shanghai University of Neuroscience discovered a gene GluR4 that increases the interactions between neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex and multiplies electric signals created in the area. It appears that the expression level of the gene is associated with social status of individual mice.

In order to confirm the theory, the scientists crated transgenic mice that express high level of GluR4 gene in neurons of these regions of the cortex and compared them with the mice of original strain. In order to determine which of the two mouse lines is higher in the hierarchical ladder, scientists conducted a simple test.They allowed the mice of these two strains to meet in a narrow passage way leading to food and looked what mice could grab more food. The results of the experiments confidently showed that mice with over-expressed GluR4 protein reached the food much faster. After a more detailed analysis of brain tissue, the researchers noticed also that the cells of the medial prefrontal cortex of the mutant mice have a higher ability to transmit the signals.

In addition, the opposite effect was achieved after mice were transfected with the gene R4Ct, which suppresses the transmission of neural signals. These mice became less successful in reaching the food.

If one looks at this finding from human perspective, it becomes clear that our leadership capabilities depend, in part, on the expression level of the gene. Would it be useful to screen people for the level of expression of this gene before offering them jobs that require leadership abilities?