Department of Genetics
Center for Human Genetic Research
Massachusetts General Hospital
Richard B. Simches Research Center CPZN 5.830
185 Cambridge St.
Boston, MA 02114
Tel: (617) 726-5724
Fax: (617) 726-5735
Web Page: The Gusella Lab Page
My laboratory is focused on understanding nervous system disease using molecular genetic strategies, beginning with human patients and proceeding through in vitro and modeling studies, with the ultimate goal of improving diagnosis, management and treatment. In any given disorder, the research can usually be divided into four sequential stages:
1. Determination of the chromosomal location of a gene defect, susceptibility gene or genetic modifier, usually based on linkage or association studies with polymorphic genetic markers.
2. Identification of the gene responsible for the phenotypic effect based upon its chromosomal location using a variety of genome analysis strategies.
3. Characterization of the mechanism of action based upon analysis of the allelic versions of the culprit gene in man, and in appropriate in vitro or in vivo model systems, including cultured human cells, genetically engineered mice, and lower organisms such as Drosophila and Dictyostelium.
4. Exploration of the potential for rational therapies, including genetic therapies.
We are currently searching for susceptibility and modifier genes in autism, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease. As part of the Developmental Genome Anatomy Project, we also identify genes at breakpoints of balanced translocations associated with developmental abnormality. Finally we are examining the mechanism of pathogenesis of genetic defects in autism, biotin-responsive basal ganglia disease, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, and neurofibromatosis, and pursuing assays to identify genetic and chemical modifiers, with the ultimate goal of contributing to effective rational therapies.
- Gusella JF, Macdonald ME. Huntington's disease: seeing the pathogenic process through a genetic lens. Trends Biochem Sci. 2006 Sep;31(9):533-40. PMID: 16829072
- Kim HG, Kishikawa S, Higgins AW, Seong IS, Donovan DJ, Shen Y, Lally E, Weiss LA, Najm J, Kutsche K, Descartes M, Holt L, Braddock S, Troxell R, Kaplan L, Volkmar F, Klin A, Tsatsanis K, Harris DJ, Noens I, Pauls DL, Daly MJ, MacDonald ME, Morton CC, Quade BJ, Gusella JF. Disruption of neurexin 1 associated with autism spectrum disorder. Am J Hum Genet. 2008 Jan;82(1):199-207. PMID: 18179900
- James MF, Lelke JM, Maccollin M, Plotkin SR, Stemmer-Rachamimov AO, Ramesh V, Gusella JF. Modeling NF2 with human arachnoidal and meningioma cell culture systems: NF2 silencing reflects the benign character of tumor growth. Neurobiol Dis. 2008 Feb;29(2):278-92. PMID: 17962031
- Pankratz N, Wilk JB, Latourelle JC, DeStefano AL, Halter C, Pugh EW, Doheny KF, Gusella JF, Nichols WC, Foroud T, Myers RH; PSG-PROGENI and GenePD Investigators, Coordinators and Molecular Genetic Laboratories. Genomewide association study for susceptibility genes contributing to familial Parkinson disease. Hum Genet. 2009 Jan;124(6):593-605. PMID: 18985386
BBS webpage updated 12/02/2009