Study explains how ‘Junk DNA’ could treat PTSD and phobia

It could be the key to extinguishing fear-related memories.


Until recently, scientists thought most of our genes comprised Junk DNA, which didn’t do anything. But when they explored these regions, they noticed that most of the genome is active.

According to a new study, this ‘junk DNA’ could be the key to extinguishing fear-related memories for people struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and phobia.

While exploring the response of the genome responds to traumatic experiences, scientists from the University of Queensland discovered the new gene called ADRAM that acts as a scaffold for molecules inside the cell. The same gene also coordinates in the formation of fear extinction memory.

Scientists used a powerful new sequencing approach to identify 433 long noncoding RNAs from relatively unknown regions of the human genome. They found that these long noncoding RNAs provide a bridge that links dynamic environmental signals with the mechanisms that control the way our brains respond to fear.

Queensland Brain Institute’s Associate Professor Timothy Bredy said“With this new understanding of gene activity, we can now work towards developing tools to selectively target long noncoding RNAs in the brain that directly modify memory, and hopefully, develop a new therapy for PTSD and phobia.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Wei Wei et al. ADRAM is an experience-dependent long noncoding RNA that drives fear extinction through direct interaction with the chaperone protein 14-3-3. DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.110546
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