Genes causing Mental illness

In one of the recent studies conducted by National Institutes of Health Science, it was revealed that genes implicated in schizophrenia and autism turns out to be the members of selected genes in which one can observe the peak in the regulatory activities during the environmentally-sensitive critical period. There is a mechanism which is popularly called as DNA methylation which actually switches on and off in the human’s brain prefrontal cortex. With the increase in the methylation, gene expression slows down after the birth. The scientists have found that the activity related to environmentally responsive regulatory across the lifespan really turns the genes off and on in the brain.

Methylation which is generally been observed to leave chemical instructions during epigenetic mechanisms usually tells genes about the type of proteins which are required to be made. These instructions are inherited from our parents though they are not included as part of our DNA. They allow to change the lifespan, which are generally influenced by environmental factors. According to Barbara Lipska who is a scientist with NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health told that in the early part of life, methylation of genes are generally altered by developmental brain disorders which affects early in life. Genes that code for the enzymes for carrying out methylation easily have the implications of schizophrenia. Usually in the prenatal brain, the genes help to a great extent to develop the circuitry useful for learning, memorizing and in other executive functions. But methylation can change the entire structure.
Mental illness

Genetic sequences are just a part of the development. Epigenetics usually links the nature and nurture. It shows when and where the environment can influence. The study which has concluded recently has observed methylation of 27,000 places in the PFC (Prefrontal Cortex) which regulate the expression of genes in PFC throughout the lifespan. PFC methylation is low prenatally where gene expression is considered to be highest and directions are switched during the birth. It then increases with gene expression plummets in the childhood and then when a person grow older, they level off. However, in some genes, methylation shows completely a reverse trajectory.

Another interesting revelation of the study is that methylation also varies with gender. The level of methylation differs in males and females. In about 85 percent of X chromosomes sites which were examined, it was found that sex differences play a crucial role.

Genes causing Mental illness
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