Function of the DISC1 Gene

As a result of the human genome project, we now know largely where our genes are, and what structure they have. The search to uncover each gene's function, on the other hand, is only in its infancy. Functional genomics is an area of research dedicated to studying what protein is produced by a gene, and what happens in the body when it is activated. Understanding gene function is the next major hurdle in genomic research, which holds the key to developing revolutionary therapeutics.

We could see some features, so-called motifs, that gave us an indication of what it might be doing. And one of the features of the gene was that it probably made a protein that had so-called coiled-coil domains in it. And what these domains do is provide a way to interact with other proteins, and a way to bring proteins together into a functional complex. So that was a clue as to what DISC1 protein might be doing. So we then set about to formally test which proteins DISC1 protein interacted with. And that’s when it became much more clear to us why this gene might be important in the pathway towards schizophrenia.

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