, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 591-597

BC200 RNA in normal human neocortex, non-Alzheimer dementia (NAD), and senile dementia of the Alzheimer type (AD)

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Abstract

BC200 RNA is a polyadenylated 200 nucleotide primate brain-specific transcript with 80% homology to the left monomer of the human Alu family of repetitive elements. Whether this transcription product contributes anything to normal brain gene function or is a residue of post transcriptional processing of brain heterogeneous nuclear RNA (hnRNA) is uncertain. However, the high abundance, tissue-specific expression and nucleotide sequence characteristics of BC200 RNA suggests that the generation of this small RNA is associated with some brain cell function. Sustained levels of the BC200 RNA transcript may be indicative of a genetically competent and normally functioning cerebral neocortex.

In this investigation, we have measured the abundance of the BC200 RNA transcript in total RNA isolated from 18 temporal neocortices (Brodman area 22) of brains with no pathology and those affected with neurodegenerative disease. Neocortices were examined from 3 neurologically normal brains, 5 non-Alzheimer dernented [NAD; 3 Huntingtons chorea (HC), 1 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and 1 dementia unclassified] and 10 Alzheimer disease (AD) affected brains. Our results indicate a strong BC200 presence in both the normal brains and NAD affected neocortices, but a 70 per cent reduction in BC200 signal strength in AD afflicted brains. These results may be related to the observation that Alzheimer brains exhibit marked deficits in the abundance of neuron-specific DNA transcripts; these deficits are consistent with the idea that AD is characterized by an impairment in the primary generation of brain gene transcription products.