Investigators at Columbia University, in New York City, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, have identified a new microRNA that plays a role in the fine-tuning of midbrain dopaminergic neurons and is deficient in brain tissue from patients with Parkinson disease (Kim J et al. Science. doi:10.1126/science.1140481 [published online ahead of print August 31, 2007]).
MicroRNAs—tiny bits of evolutionarily conserved RNA that regulate gene expression during development—have been linked to human diseases, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer disease, Tourette syndrome, and now Parkinson disease. The newly identified microRNA, named miR-133b, regulates the maturation and function of neurons within a pathway that the authors suggest plays a role in functions related to dopaminergic neurons, such as locomotion.
Hampton T. Parkinson Disease microRNAs. JAMA. 2007;298(13):1506. doi:10.1001/jama.298.13.1506-c