Genetic Mutation Causes Lupus in Mice
News Jan 07, 2014
Yale researchers have identified a genetic mutation that leads to lupus in mice.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that causes widespread inflammation in internal organs as well as joints and the nervous system. It affects five million people around the world. The first sign of lupus may be severe joint pain or a butterfly-shaped rash on the face. There is no cure.
The research team focused on a gene known as POL B, which functions to repair breaks in DNA. Decreased POL B expression, which results in weakened DNA repair, has been linked to SLE.
To test whether this was true, researchers constructed mouse models with mutated POL B. They exhibited decreased expression and much slower DNA synthesis. The mice subsequently developed disease characteristics that strongly resemble SLE, including dermatitis and renal disease.
“This finding implicates abnormal DNA repair as one of the causes of lupus in people,” said senior author Joann Sweasy, professor of therapeutic radiology and genetics at Yale School of Medicine and member of Yale Cancer Center. “This mouse model of SLE will be useful to study how abnormal DNA repair is linked to lupus and to identify new drugs to treat this disease.”
Animal venoms are the subject of study at research center based at the Butantan Institute in São Paulo. But in this case, the idea is not to find antidotes, but rather to use the properties of the venoms themselves to identify molecular targets of diseases and, armed with that knowledge, develop new compounds that can be used as medicines.