Max Planck researchers show that two products of the gene DJ-1 can increase the survival of neurons
Parkinson’s disease affects neurons in the Substantia nigra brain region – their mitochondrial activity ceases and the cells die.
Inactivation of the DJ-1 gene results in mitochondrial dysfunction (left), which can be restored by glycolate or D-lactate (right). Active mitochondria are shown in red, DNA is shown in blue
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics show that supplying D-lactate or glycolate, two products of the gene DJ-1, can stop and even counteract this process: Adding the substances to cultured HeLa cells and to cells of the nematode C. elegans restored the activity of mitochondria and prevented the degeneration of neurons.
They also showed that the two substances rescued the toxic effects of the weed killer Paraquat. Cells that had been treated with this herbicide, which is known to cause a Parkinson's like harm of mitochondria, recovered after the addition of the two substances. Both glycolic and D-lactic acids occur naturally in unripe fruits and certain kinds of yoghurt. Products with an enriched concentration of these substances could thus be a therapeutic route for a treatment of Parkinson’s or for even preventing the onset of the disease.
Teymuras Kurzchalia and Tony Hyman both have labs at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics with rather different research programs – but both happened to stumble upon the gene DJ-1 and joined forces. This gene, originally thought of as an oncogene, has been linked to Parkinson’s disease since 2003.
Recent studies showed that DJ-1 belongs to a novel glyxolase family. The major function of these genes is assumed to detoxify aggressive aldehyde by-products from mitochondrial metabolism. The Dresden research team now showed that the products of DJ-1, D-lactate and glycolate, are actually required to maintain the high mitochondrial potential and thus can prevent the degeneration of neurons implicated in Parkinson’s disease.
Their experiments proved that both substances are lifesavers for neurons: Adding them to affected cells, in other words cells treated with the environmental poison Paraquat or with a down-regulated DJ-1, decreased the toxic effect of the herbicide, restored the activity of the mitochondria and thus ensured the survival of the neurons.
„We do not yet understand how exactly D-lactate and glycolate achieve this curative and preventive effect, but the next step will be to investigate the molecular mechanism underlying this process”, say Hyman and Kurzchalia. In addition to further molecular investigation, they also have more concrete plans for the future: As Kurzchalia says “we can develop a yoghurt enriched with D-lactate: It could serve as a protection against Parkinson’s and is actually very tasty at the same time!“ This is why the researchers have filed a patent for their finding.
Many diseases are associated with a decline in mitochondrial activity, not only Parkinson’s. Thus, the researchers believe that the DJ1-products could have a general role in protecting cells from decline.
Dr. Teymuras Kurzchalia | Max-Planck-Institute
About injured hearts that grow back - Heart regeneration mechanism in zebrafish revealed
10.02.2016 | Universität Ulm
Chemical cages: New technique advances synthetic biology
10.02.2016 | Arizona State University
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
Indications of light-induced lossless electricity transmission in fullerenes contribute to the search for superconducting materials for practical applications.
Superconductors have long been confined to niche applications, due to the fact that the highest temperature at which even the best of these materials becomes...
09.02.2016 | Event News
02.02.2016 | Event News
26.01.2016 | Event News
10.02.2016 | Life Sciences
10.02.2016 | Earth Sciences
10.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy