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Reviewed August 2012
What is the official name of the SMN1 gene?
The official name of this gene is “survival of motor neuron 1, telomeric.”
SMN1 is the gene's official symbol. The SMN1 gene is also known by other names, listed below.
Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.
What is the normal function of the SMN1 gene?
The SMN1 gene provides instructions for making the survival motor neuron (SMN) protein. The SMN protein is found throughout the body, with high levels in the spinal cord. This protein is particularly important for the maintenance of specialized nerve cells called motor neurons, which are located in the spinal cord and the part of the brain that is connected to the spinal cord (the brainstem). Motor neurons control muscle movement.
In cells, the SMN protein plays an important role in processing molecules called messenger RNA (mRNA), which serve as genetic blueprints for making proteins. Messenger RNA begins as a rough draft (pre-mRNA) and goes through several processing steps to become a final, mature form. The SMN protein helps to assemble the cellular machinery needed to process pre-mRNA. Research findings indicate that the SMN protein is also important for the development of specialized outgrowths from nerve cells called dendrites and axons. Dendrites and axons are required for the transmission of impulses between nerves and from nerves to muscles.
A small amount of SMN protein is produced from a gene similar to SMN1 called SMN2. The SMN2 gene provides instructions for making several versions of the SMN protein, but only one version is functional; the other versions are smaller and easily broken down.
How are changes in the SMN1 gene related to health conditions?
Where is the SMN1 gene located?
Cytogenetic Location: 5q13.2
Molecular Location on chromosome 5: base pairs 70,924,941 to 70,953,015
(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (
The SMN1 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 5 at position 13.2.
More precisely, the SMN1 gene is located from base pair 70,924,941 to base pair 70,953,015 on chromosome 5.
See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.
Where can I find additional information about SMN1?
You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about SMN1 helpful.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.
What other names do people use for the SMN1 gene or gene products?
See How are genetic conditions and genes named? in the Handbook.
Where can I find general information about genes?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding SMN1?
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.
References (21 links)
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.