Traditionally, genes are classified according to their ability to produce proteins. However, this study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry sheds light on the importance of non-coding genes such as Snhg11. These genes do not code for proteins, but play a critical role in regulating gene activity, influencing development and potentially contributing to disease.

The research team from the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) focused on the hippocampus, a region of the brain that plays a critical role in the development of memory and learning. Experiments in mice and human tissue have shown that Snhg11 is less active in the brains of people with Down syndrome.

The lead author of the study, Dr. “Snhg11 is specifically active in a part of the hippocampus that is critical for learning and memory formation,” explains Cesar Sierra. “We found that reducing Snhg11 expression leads to fewer new neurons and changes in plasticity that are necessary for learning and memory.”

Other experiments confirmed the effect of Snhg11 on brain function. Mice with reduced Snhg11 activity showed impairments in synaptic plasticity (the ability of neurons to strengthen connections over time), a process vital for learning and memory. These mice also had difficulty creating new neurons.

The researchers plan to further investigate the exact mechanisms by which Snhg11 affects brain function.

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Source: Ferra

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