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
Why do animals fight members of other species?
24.04.2015 | University of California - Los Angeles
Is a small artificially composed virus fragment the key to a Chikungunya vaccine?
24.04.2015 | Paul-Ehrlich-Institut - Bundesinstitut für Impfstoffe und biomedizinische Arzneimittel
KAIST researchers published an article on the development of a novel technique to precisely track the 3-D positions of optically-trapped particles having complicated geometry in high speed in the April 2015 issue of Optica.
Daejeon, Republic of Korea, April 23, 2015--Optical tweezers have been used as an invaluable tool for exerting micro-scale force on microscopic particles and...
A very small and rare species of shark is swimming its way through scientific literature. But don't worry, the chances of this inches-long vertebrate biting...
Ever since computers have been small enough to be fixtures on desks and laps, their central processing has functioned something like an atomic Etch A Sketch, with electromagnetic fields pushing data bits into place to encode data.
Unfortunately, the same drawbacks and perils of the mechanical sketch board have been just as pervasive in computing: making a change often requires starting...
How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was discovered, more or less by coincidence, that cosmic rays provide suitable probes to measure electric fields within thunderclouds. This surprising finding is published in Physical Review Letters on April 24th. The measurements were performed with the LOFAR radio telescope located in the Netherlands.
How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was...
Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.
In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...
23.04.2015 | Event News
23.04.2015 | Event News
13.04.2015 | Event News
24.04.2015 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2015 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2015 | Health and Medicine