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J Neural Transm Suppl. 2003;(67):39-49.

Aberrant protein expression of transcription factors BACH1 and ERG, both encoded on chromosome 21, in brains of patients with Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Down syndrome (DS; trisomy 21) is a genetic disorder associated with early mental retardation and patients inevitably develop Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like neuropathological changes. The molecular defects underlying the DS-phenotype may be due to overexpression of genes encoded on chromosome 21. This so-called gene dosage hypothesis is still controversial and demands systematic work on protein expression. A series of transcription factors (TF) are encoded on chromosome 21 and are considered to play a pathogenetic role in DS. We therefore decided to study brain expression of TF encoded on chromosome 21 in patients with DS and AD compared to controls: Frontal cortex of 6 male DS patients, 6 male patients with AD and 6 male controls were used for the experiments. Immunoblotting was used to determine protein levels of TF BACH1, ERG, SIM2 and RUNX1. SIM2 and RUNX1 were comparable between groups, while BACH1 was significantly reduced in DS, and ERG was increased in DS and AD as compared to controls. These findings may indicate that DS pathogenesis cannot be simply explained by the gene dosage effect hypothesis and that results of ERG expression in DS were paralleling those in AD probably reflecting a common pathogenetic mechanism possibly explaining why all DS patients develop AD like neuropathology from the fourth decade. We conclude that TF derangement is not only due to the process of neurodegeneration and propose that TFs BACH1 and ERG play a role for the development of AD-like neuropathology in DS and pathogenesis of AD per se and the manifold increase of ERG in both disorders may form a pivotal pathogenetic link.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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