Scientists at Aberdeen scientists have discovered two enhancer elements, ECR1 and ECR2, that drive expression of a neuropeptide called Substance P in different areas of the nervous system. Substance P is encoded by the tachykinin precursor 1 gene (TAC1), which plays a role in anxiety and inflammatory pain.
ECR1 drives Substance P expression within the amygdala, where it has been implicated in depressive and bi-polar disorders, while ECR2 has been found to act synergistically with the TAC1 promoter to drive Substance P expression in sensory neurones in response to noxious stimuli. This is a key finding as such expression is associated with inflammatory disease.
These tissue-specific enhancer elements offer the opportunity to tightly regulate gene expression both in the brain and the peripheral nervous system.
Apart from being targets for novel therapeutics they could also be used as research tools for tissue-specific gene expression. This technology is available for license from Aberdeen University, for more information, see the project’s page at: http://www.university-technology.com/details/enhancer-elements-driving-substance-p-expression-in-amygdala-and-sensory-neurones