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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Nov;1086:1-10.

Gene expression profiling toward understanding of ALS pathogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, 65 Tsurumai-cho, Showa-ku, Nagoya 466-8550, Japan.


Although more than 130 years have gone by since the first description in 1869 by Jean-Martin Charcot, the mechanism underlying the characteristic selective motor neuron degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has remained elusive. Modest advances in this research field have been achieved by the identification of copper/zinc superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) as one of the causative genes for rare familial ALS (FALS) and by the development and analysis of mutant SOD1 transgenic mouse models. However, in sporadic ALS (SALS) with many more patients, causative or critical genes situated upstream of the disease pathway have not yet been elucidated and no available disease models have been established. To approach genes causative or critical for ALS, gene expression profiling in tissues primarily affected by the disease has represented an attractive research strategy. We have been working on screening these genes employing and combining several new technologies such as cDNA microarray, molecular indexing, and laser capture microdissection. Many of the resultant genes are of intense interest and may provide a powerful tool for determining the molecular mechanisms of ALS. However, we have barely arrived at the starting point and are confronting an enormous number of genes whose roles remain undetermined. Challenging tasks lie ahead of us such as identifying which genes are really causative for ALS and developing a disease model of SALS with due consideration for the expression changes in those genes.

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