Earlier research has shown that developing multiple sclerosis has a genetic component. Now, a study has identified a new gene that signifies how much risk a person carries of developing the disease.

Published in The Journal of Immunology, the study has shown that the chromosome 5q11 has a genetic variant responsible for regulating a gene called ANKRD55. While the gene's specific function is still unknown, ANKRD55 has been observed to produce three different RNA transcripts and the genetic variant it is associated with greatly influences the production of the transcripts.

Genetic variants cause changes in DNA codes. To understand the biological effects genetic variants cause, researchers have studied how corresponding genes are expressed. This means specific changes in RNA and proteins are particularly explored.

The researchers, led by Koen Vandenbroeck of the Neurogenomiks laboratory in Spain, also discovered that RNA transcripts are produced within T CD4+ cells, suggesting that ANKRD55 also affects these immune cells. However, it is crucial to note that the 5q11 chromosome contains many other genes that have a hand in immune system responses.

Additionally, ANKRD55 was also found to be present in cell nuclei, meaning it has a role in specific processes that occur within the cell's nucleus, like gene transcription.

The study represents a big step toward understanding ANKRD55 further as well as the proteins it expresses, since it is a new factor that could shed light on how neuro-inflammation occurs in multple sclerosis. However, further research is recommended to determine if the discovery can be used to improve upon diagnostic and therapeutic tools currently in place to address the disease.

Genetics And Multiple Sclerosis

The average American has a 0.1 percent (or 1 in 750) chance of developing multiple sclerosis but risks grow as genetics come into play. For example, risks rise to up to 5 percent when an individual has a first-degree relative, like a child or sibling, that has been diagnosed with the disease. Additionally, while multiple sclerosis occurs in all ethnic groups, it appears to be most common in Caucasians.

Aside from genes and ethnicity, geography and infectious triggers have been found to be involved as well in the development of multiple sclerosis.

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