New Drug Target Identified Against Parkinson's Disease

Researchers have uncovered a mechanism regulating dopamine levels in the brain by working on a mouse model of late onset Parkinson's disease. The study is published in the scientific journal PLoS Genetics.
 
Using gene expression profiling, a method to measure the activity of thousands of genes, researchers investigated dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain, which are nerve cells that use dopamine to send signals to other nerve cells. These neurons are known to degenerate in Parkinson's disease.
 
The researchers identified the Rgs6 gene for its restricted expression in dopaminergic neurons. They have previously shown that this gene is itself controlled by a transcription factor called Pitx3, which plays an important role in the survival of these neurons.
 
The researchers found that when they remove the Rgs6 gene, this relieves a brake against excessive dopaminergic signalling. As a result, excess free dopamine accumulation causes cellular stress, which, in turn, causes the neurons to die. The work thus indicates that Rgs6 could be a new target for the development of drugs against Parkinson's disease.