Yutaka Yoshida.

Yutaka Yoshida, PhD

Some 6 percent of children worldwide suffer from developmental disabilities that affect skilled motor control. For many, this may be due to failure of two genes critical to developing motor skills. 

Scientists from Cincinnati Children’s and the City University of New York School of Medicine reported their findings May 3, 2017, in Neuron.

The researchers bred mice to lack molecular signaling from the Bax/Bak genetic pathway, and demonstrated how Bax/Bak’s downstream molecular targets are vital to developing connections between the motor cortex, spinal circuits and opposing muscle groups.

They recommend that people with certain motor development disabilities be tested for mutant forms of these genes.

“Mutations in the Bax/Bak pathway in patients with developmental motor disabilities could translate to possible medical application,” says Yutaka Yoshida, PhD, Division of Developmental Biology and study lead author. “Our goal is to determine whether disruptions in the pathway are implicated in skilled motor disabilities, and whether it regulates reorganization of other circuits in the central nervous system.”