Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Compounds that help protect nerve cells discovered by Duke team

20.01.2010
Scientists at Duke University Medical Center have found some compounds that improve a cell's ability to properly "fold" proteins and could lead to promising drugs for degenerative nerve diseases, including Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Misfolded proteins in nerve cells (neurons) are a common factor in all of these diseases. The Duke team has identified many new chemicals that activate a master regulator to increase the supply of "protein chaperone" molecules that help fold proteins properly.

The scientists further explored one of the candidate molecules to activate the master regulator of chaperone gene expression, Heat Shock Factor 1 (HSF1), to learn whether it would work in model systems of Huntington's disease, a devastating neurodegenerative disease of protein misfolding.

They were able to show that the molecule stimulated protein chaperones in cells and in an animal system. The damage to early-state rat neurons was much lower in cells pre-treated with the HSF1 activator, and damage to the neurons of fruit flies that had a Huntington's-like disorder was also greatly reduced.

Previous studies suggested that elevating the abundance of protein chaperones is effective in treating cell and animal models of Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases. This work provides a new approach to address the root cause of these diseases -- protein misfolding. Earlier attempts had used heat shock and other approaches that stress a nerve cell in order to produce more chaperone molecules, but at a cost of damaging the cell to save it.

"The advantage of our screen is that it identifies molecules that can elevate the levels of chaperones without inducing cellular stress and that don't inhibit a key protein chaperone called Hsp90 that is needed for cells to function normally," said senior author Dennis J. Thiele, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology. "We found a creative way to identify new molecules that can activate the body's natural protein folding machinery."

The research was published in the Jan. 19 online issue of PLoS Biology.

Lead author Daniel Neef, Ph.D., says they used genetically altered yeast to find compounds that might aid chaperone development. The scientists took yeast with a deleted HSF1 (master regulator) gene and inserted the related human HSF1 gene. These yeast, however, still weren't able to activate human HSF1 on their own, and in effect, died. They needed an additional molecule to make human HSF1 become active.

The team put these "humanized yeasts" into wells and started testing compounds that would provide the missing link. In several of the wells, if the compound worked, the yeast started multiplying. "Out of over 12,000 compounds tested from chemical libraries, about 50 compounds worked," Neef said. The team decided to explore one of these compounds (HSF1A) in further experiments.

"The humanized yeast-based screening results in our study provide a way to identify new classes of small molecules, small enough to penetrate the blood-brain barrier to work in neurons, in flies as well as in humans," Thiele said. "These small molecules may be effective therapies in neurodegenerative diseases caused by protein conformational disorders such as Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease."

The scientists found that HSF1A could stimulate more protein chaperones and reduce the protein misfolding. They showed that adding a small amount of HSF1A to the developing rat neurons kept the proteins dissolved throughout the cell, rather than clumping visibly as speckled areas (as seen under microscopes).

"We enhanced the cells' viability by four or five times by pre-treating them with this molecule," Neef said. "Otherwise, the cells would have died."

They used fruit flies with Huntington's disease for experiments to prove that the principle would work in an animal. Adding HSF1A to the fly's food produced more chaperone molecules in their neurons. This suggests that the molecule could travel from the fly's stomach into its circulation and cross a barrier to the fly brain.

In the key experiment, the Huntington's disease flies received either their usual food or food plus HSF1A. Those with untreated food developed eyes with dying photoreceptor neurons and lacking the normal red color. Those that ate HSF1A went on to have normal-colored eyes, indicating a repair had taken place, just by eating food laced with the promising compound.

Michelle Turski, now with Stanford University, was a co-author of the study. The work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Mary Jane Gore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>