Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Scientists Find Gene Linked to Alcohol Consumption

Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Bookmark and Share
Scientists have identified a gene, in a study of over 47,000 people published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists have identified a gene that appears to play a role in regulating how much alcohol people drink, in a study of over 47,000 people published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers say that finding a common genetic variation influencing levels of alcohol consumption may lead to a better understanding of mechanisms underlying alcohol drinking behaviour in the general population.

The gene, called "autism susceptibility candidate 2", or AUTS2, has previously been linked to autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but its function is not known.

Today's study, by an international consortium led by scientists at Imperial College London and King's College London, found that there are two versions of the AUTS2 gene, one three times more common than the other. People with the less common version drink on average five per cent less alcohol than people with the more common version.

The gene is most active in parts of the brain associated with neuropsychological reward mechanisms, suggesting that it might play a part in regulating the positive reinforcement that people feel when they drink alcohol.

Alcohol consumption is known to be partly determined by genes but until now the only gene known to make a notable contribution was the gene encoding alcohol dehydrogenase, an enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the liver.

Professor Paul Elliott, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: "Of course there are a lot of factors that affect how much alcohol a person drinks, but we know from twin studies that genes play an important role. The difference that this particular gene makes is only small, but by finding it we've opened up a new area of research into the biological mechanisms that control drinking."

The researchers analyzed DNA samples from over 26,000 volunteers to search for genes that appeared to affect alcohol consumption, and then checked their findings in another 21,000 people. The volunteers reported how much alcohol they drank in questionnaires.

Once the researchers had identified AUTS2, they examined how much messenger RNA -a copy of the gene's code that is used to make a protein - was present in samples of donated human brain tissue. They found that the people with the version of the gene associated with lower alcohol consumption produced more of the messenger RNA, meaning that the gene was more active.

The researchers also investigated strains of mice that had been selectively bred according to how much alcohol they drink voluntarily. They found that there were differences in the AUTS2 gene activity levels among different breeds of mice that drink more or less alcohol.

In addition, the researchers found that blocking the effect of a related gene in fruit flies made the flies less sensitive to alcohol. These results indicate that AUTS2 seems to be involved in regulation of alcohol intake in a number of different species.

Professor Gunter Schumann, from the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, said: "In this study we combine genetic studies with investigations of animal behaviour. Since people drink alcohol for very different reasons, understanding the particular behaviour influenced by the gene identified helps us better understand the biological basis of these reasons. This is an important first step towards the development of individually targeted prevention and treatments for alcohol abuse and addiction."

The research was principally funded by the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centres at Imperial and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust/Institute of Psychiatry King's College London, as well as the European Commission and the Medical Research Council.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

‘Simple Rules’ Calculate Ovarian Cancer Risk
Scientists have formulated a system that uses ultrasound images to accurately work out the likelihood of an ovarian growth being cancerous.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Intelligence ‘Networks’ Discovered in Brain for the First Time
Scientists from Imperial College London have identified for the first time two clusters of genes linked to human intelligence.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Modified Mosquitoes Could Help Fight Against Malaria
The results are published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
New Technique Negotiates Neuron Jungle To Target Source Of Parkinson’s Disease
Researchers from Imperial College London and Newcastle University believe they have found a potential new way to target cells of the brain affected by Parkinson’s disease.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Designer Molecule Shines a Spotlight on Mysterious Four-Stranded DNA
A small fluorescent molecule has shed new light on knots of DNA thought to play a role in regulating how genes are switched on and off.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
New Drug Target Identified for Serious Heart and Lung Condition
A gene has been identified that sheds new light on a potentially fatal heart and lung condition and could lead to a new treatment.
Friday, August 14, 2015
Scientists Find New Variant of Streptococcal Bacteria Causing Severe Infections
Researchers noticed a sharp rise in infections caused by emm89.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis Shows Encouraging Trial Results
A therapy that replaces the faulty gene responsible for cystic fibrosis in patients' lungs has produced encouraging results in a major UK trial.
Friday, July 03, 2015
New Genetic Form of Obesity and Diabetes Discovered
Scientists have discovered a new inherited form of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
New Genetic Form of Obesity and Diabetes Discovered
Scientists have discovered a new inherited form of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Researchers Develop New Breath Test to Diagnose Oesophageal and Gastric Cancer
Test will now be tested in a larger trial involving three hospitals in London.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Imperial Researchers Win Health Foundation Grant for Cancer Innovation Study
Each project will receive over £450,000 of funding to support the research.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Diet Swap has Dramatic Effects on Colon Cancer Risk for Americans and Africans
New study confirms that a high fibre diet can substantially reduce risk.
Saturday, May 02, 2015
Protein That Boosts Immunity to Viruses and Cancer Discovered
Researchers now developing a gene therapy designed to boost the infection-fighting cells.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Epigenetic Study Highlights Drug Targets for Allergies and Asthma
Scientists have discovered over 30 new genes that predispose people to allergies and asthma, some of which could be targets for new drugs.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Scientific News
Genetic Cause of Rare Allergy
Institute has identified a genetic mutation responsible for a rare form of inherited hives induced by vibratory urticaria.
Mitochondria Shown to Trigger Cell Ageing
An international team of scientists has for the first time shown that mitochondria, the batteries of the cells, are essential for ageing.
Cancer Cells Kill Off Healthy Neighbours
Cancer cells create space to grow by killing off surrounding healthy cells, according to UK researchers working with fruit flies.
Validating the Accuracy of CRISPR-Cas9
IBS Researchers create multiplex Digenome-seq to find errors in CRISPR-Cas9 processes.
Cancer Drug Target Visualized at Atomic Resolution
New study using cryo-electron microscopy shows how potential drugs could inhibit cancer.
Genetic Mechanism Behind Cancer-Causing Mutations
Researchers at Indiana University has identified a genetic mechanism that is likely to drive mutations that can lead to cancer.
"Gene Fusion" Drives Childhood Brain Cancers
Study co-led by Penn scientists highlights potential targets for future cancer therapies.
Enzyme Links Age-Related Inflammation, Cancer
Researchers have shown that an enzyme key to regulating gene expression -- and also an oncogene when mutated -- is critical for the expression of numerous inflammatory compounds that have been implicated in age-related increases in cancer and tissue degeneration.
How to Unlock Inaccessible Genes
An international team of biologists has discovered how specialized enzymes remodel the extremely condensed genetic material in the nucleus of cells in order to control which genes can be used.
Viral Gene Editing System Corrects Genetic Liver Disease
Penn study has implications for developing safe therapies for an array of rare diseases via new gene cut-and-paste methods.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,200+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!