DJ-1 and UCH-L1 gene activity patterns in the brains of controls, Parkinson and schizophrenia patients and in rodents

Dagmar Galter, Marie Westerlund, Andrea Carmine Belin, Lars Olson
Physiology & Behavior 2007 September 10, 92 (1-2): 46-53
DJ-1 (PARK7) has been implicated in early onset and familial cases of Parkinson's disease (PD). We therefore mapped cellular activity patterns of the DJ-1 gene in human and rodent brain tissue with radioactive in-situ hybridization. In all three mammals mRNA expression was restricted mainly to neurons in all regions analyzed. White matter, such as crus cerebri and capsula interna appeared negative, suggesting that glial cells express DJ-1 at levels below the detection limit of our method. We compared DJ-1 mRNA expression to the neuronal marker UCH-L1, which has also been implicated in PD, and found lower levels for DJ-1 but very similar patterns of expression. Measurement of the signal intensity revealed that human frontal cortex of control cases expressed DJ-1 mRNA more abundantly than other regions such as substantia nigra in the midbrain. Comparing DJ-1 expression in dopamine neurons on hemi-sections from controls and patients we could not detect any difference between 14 controls, 8 idiopathic Parkinson and 5 schizophrenia cases. Of note, DJ-1 is expressed in several other tissues such as the liver, gastrointestinal tract, adrenal and pituitary gland and during embryonic development, while UCH-L1 has a strictly neuronal expression also outside the CNS. We conclude that DJ-1 and UCH-L1, like other genes linked to PD, are not expressed specifically in DA neurons, but instead generally in neurons. The abundant expression of DJ-1 in certain peripheral tissues and of UCH-L1 in peripheral neurons may also be of relevance for the spectrum of symptoms in different forms of PD.

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