Psych_115_-_Genes_1

Psych_115_-_Genes_1 - GENES & THE BRAIN: PART 1 Tuesday,...

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GENES & THE BRAIN: PART 1 Tuesday, Week 3
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Why be interested in genes…. As biologists: Genes provide the “blueprints” for the structure and function of proteins, which – in turn – allow cells (including neurons) to engage in their complex functions As psychologists: By programming the ability of cells to function in unique and important ways, genes influence the operations of the brain – and those operations are “behavior” Correspondingly, genes influence the normal function of the brain and they set the stage for abnormal function – which we call psychiatric or
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An example from last week… GABA – our inhibitory transmitter Neurons synthesize GABA from glutamate (!!!!) using an enzyme/protein called glutamic acid decarboxylase They then put it into vesicles using a protein called the vesicular
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An example from last week… After GABA is released, and acts on its receptors, it is removed from the synapse by proteins called “GABA transporters [GAT]” It is taken up into astrocytes that surround the synapse
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An example from last week… Two enzymes, working serially, called GABA aminotransferase and glutaminase, then convert GABA into glutamine, which is shuttled back to the pre-synaptic neuron, where the glutamine is coverted to glutamate
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An example from last week… GABA-A receptors are hyperpolarizing Cl- channels They are so called heteropentameric structures 19 individual subunit genes Each subunit gives the receptor a different property
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GABA Lots of genes required to coordinate this one neurotransmitter system Synthesis Packaging and release Receptor level Inactivation When genes differ across individuals, there is the chance that those differences affect how readily your GABA system functions – which helps us to understand individual differences
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Comparative Genetics Tsang et al. Mol Biol Evol (2007) 24 (2): 599-610.
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Comparative Genetics In fact, the major families of GABA-A receptor genes are found in the genome of Ciona , meaning that they arose long long ago
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Significance? Tells us something about how our inhibitory neurotransmitter systems developed… Suggests that studying lower organisms helps us to understand ourselves better… Questions like “how changes in gene sequence can influence behavior” and “how using drugs to regulate these proteins can treat illness” can be answered through study of organisms with similar genomes to
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Comparative Biology: Why? Let’s say we discover a relationship in human subjects: that mutations in gene X occur more often in people with disease Y (correlation) In order to know that gene X CAUSED disease Y, we need to conduct an experiment (e.g., transgenic mouse) We also need to know HOW the protein gene X codes for works, where it is expressed, what its basic biological properties are, etc.
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This note was uploaded on 06/13/2011 for the course PSYCH 115 taught by Professor Shaine during the Spring '07 term at UCLA.

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Psych_115_-_Genes_1 - GENES & THE BRAIN: PART 1 Tuesday,...

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