Mayo Clinic Researchers Identify Candidate Genes that may Cause Chronic Pain

Some 400 genes were described for the first time in this study, which the researchers hope may lead to transcription therapy.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have discovered candidate genes that may be responsible for causing chronic pain.

Using computers, the Mayo Clinic researchers sorted through 50 base-pair long mRNA sequence "reads" that assembled the genomic puzzle. Once this sorting process was complete, the results revealed 10,464 novel exons (sections of the genome involved in creating proteins) and some 400 gene candidates that were described for the first time in the study, according to the researchers. In addition, “detailed building plans for thousands of spliced mRNA were mapped” as a result of this sorting process.

The team focused on dorsal root ganglion neurons of the peripheral nervous system, which are suspected to be involved in pain. Using rodent models, they performed computerized high-throughput sequencing of hundreds of millions of mRNA molecules.

"Using this new approach offers greater sensitivity, dynamic range and more efficient unbiased genetic mapping compared to the previous microarray-based methods and may be an efficient new approach to a wide array of problems in neuroscience research," said Andreas Beutler, MD, Mayo Clinic oncologist and corresponding author on the study.

Researchers hope that the discovery may lead to transcription therapy, which would decrease or even eliminate pain by correcting the activity of specific genes.