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Tyrosine Hydroxylase Gene: Another Piece of the Genetic Puzzle of Parkinson's Disease

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The tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) gene encodes a monoxygenase that catalyzes the rate limiting step in dopamine biosynthesis. A hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD) is the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. Consistent with the essential role of TH in dopamine homeostasis, missense mutations in both alleles of TH have been associated with severe Parkinsonism-related phenotypes including infantile Parkinsonism. It has been speculated for a long time that genetic variants in the TH gene modify adult-onset PD susceptibility but the answer has not been clear. Genetic variants (both sequence variations and structural variations) can be classified into three categories based on their relative frequency in population: common variants (polymorphisms), rare variants and mutations. Each of these factors has a different mode in influencing the genetic risk and often requires different approaches to decipher their contributions to the disease. In the past few years, the revolutionary advances in genomic technology have allowed systematic evaluations of these genetic variants in PD, such as the genome-wide association study (GWAS, to survey common variants), copy number variation analysis (to detect structural variations), and massive parallel next generation sequencing (to detect rare variants and mutations). In this review, we have summarized the latest evidence on TH genetic variants in PD, including our ongoing effort of using whole exome sequencing to search for rare variants in PD patients.
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Keywords: L-DOPA; MAPT; Parkinson's disease; Rare variant; SNCA; copy number variations; genetic association; genome wide association study; next generation sequencing; polymorphism; tyrosine hydroxylase

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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  • CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry of contemporary molecular targets involved in neurological and central nervous system (CNS) disorders e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will contain a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on drug targets involved in neurological and CNS disorders. As the discovery, identification, characterization and validation of novel human drug targets for neurological and CNS drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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