Mutations in a gene called FIGLA cause premature ovarian failure in at least 1% of women who suffer from the disorder, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Shandong University in China in a report that appears online in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Premature ovarian failure, which means that the ovaries lose function before age 40, not only causes infertility but also bone and heart problems. Ovarian reserves are important for women’s health.
FIGLA is one of four transcription factors found to control the differentiation of egg cells early in development. Transcription factors govern the activity of genes, turning them off and on and modulating the extent to which they are active. The other genes involved include NOBOX, GDF9 and BMP 15. Mutations in these can lead to premature ovarian failure as well.
“We hope to define majority of the genes that are part of the cellular pathways involved in ovarian failure,”said Dr. Aleksandar Rajkovic, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at BCM and senior author of the paper.
“Ideally in the future we will offer a test to women to look at all the genes involved in premature ovarian failure.”
He anticipates that a gene chip would be helpful in such diagnosis, which can help in counseling women or their children about the risk of early ovarian failure.
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Elaine Warburton www.geneticsandhealth.com