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2011 Grants - Crary
MicroRNA Regulation of MAPT in Alzheimer's Disease, Limbic Type
John F. Crary, M.D., Ph.D.
Columbia University Medical Center
New York, New York
2011 New Investigator Research Grant
Several different types of Alzheimer's disease have been described by scientists, most of which are associated with two characteristic features: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. One type of the disease exhibits only neurofibrillary tangles and is known as tangle-only dementia or limbic type dementia, because it occurs most often in the limbic region of the brain.
John F. Crary, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues have been studying the molecular mechanisms of limbic type dementia, focusing on the protein tau, which is the principle component of neurofibrillary tangles. They have found no evidence that the gene for tau is altered in limbic type dementia or other neurodegenerative diseases involving tau. However, they have found evidence for alterations in other regions of DNA that control the expression of tau. DNA is a component of cells that contains the specific genetic information needed for any living organism to develop and function. These DNA control regions bind to other molecules known as microRNA, which affect expression of the tau protein.
Dr. Crary and colleagues plan to study the regions of DNA controlling the expression of tau and the microRNA that bind to them. These studies may help to answer fundamental questions about the mechanisms of neurodegeneration, especially the roles of tau and neurofibrillary tangles.