Could schizophrenia be triggered by 'jumping genes'?

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A research team has found evidence that transposable elements (aka "jumping genes") may contribute to schizophrenia's development. These elements are genetic sequences that can move from chromosome to chromosome, increasing their own frequency in the genome.

The initial research, geared towards proven plausibility for further study, was conducted by the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan and published in the journal Neuron as Increased L1 Retrotransposition in the Neuronal Genome in Schizophrenia.

Human neural cells are rich in a common transposable element called L1. The team found that brain disorders correlate with higher levels of L1. Studies with mice showed that there is causality between genetic elements and mental disorders, specifically schizophrenia, paving the way for more concrete studies.

Because schizophrenia often runs in families, this suggests that the condition has an underlying genetic basis; with social and environmental factors also contributing.

 
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