Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Enzyme action creates protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease

12.08.2005


Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have defined a key step in the production of beta-amyloid, a short protein that is thought to be responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding this step may aid in the discovery of drugs that could help block the disease from developing.



In Alzheimer’s disease, too much beta-amyloid is produced by an enzyme that has many other essential roles. As a result, simply blocking the whole enzyme knocks out many of its other functions - which is fatal to the organism.

Using cultured human and mouse cells, as well as test-tube assays, UT Southwestern researchers singled out how just one portion of the enzyme, a protein called nicastrin, is involved in the pathway that produces beta-amyloid, thereby leading to Alzheimer’s disease. They hope next to work on ways to specifically block nicastrin. The study appears in the August 12 issue of the journal Cell.


"The work provides an attractive potential strategy for developing treatment for Alzheimer’s disease," said Dr. Gang Yu, assistant professor in the Center for Basic Neuroscience and of cell biology and senior author of the study. The research uncovered an "unprecedented mechanism of biochemistry," Dr. Yu said.

Nicastrin is a large protein that is a component of an enzyme called gamma-secretase, which is lodged in the cell’s membrane. When it is at the cell surface, nicastrin sticks out into the area outside the cell. It has been thought to play a key role in the creation of a protein called amyloid-beta - the prime suspect for the damage Alzheimer’s does to the brain - but the exact mechanism was unknown.

Dr. Yu and his colleagues found that nicastrin binds to several proteins lodged in the cell’s membrane, including one called amyloid precursor protein, or APP. Nicastrin then guides membrane-bound proteins to the active area of gamma-secretase, which then splits the proteins. APP, for example, is chopped into two parts: amyloid-beta, which is then shipped to the outside of the cell, and another part that remains inside. Amyloid-beta forms the plaques seen in brains afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

"Actually, it’s quite a simple mechanism," Dr. Yu said. "Hopefully, we can screen for compounds that can block this process and find the exact pathways and how it can be regulated in Alzheimer’s disease."

Now that nicastrin’s function has been ascertained, it opens a way to block just the splitting of APP, leaving all the enzyme’s other functions intact. For instance, it may be possible to generate chemical compounds that specifically prevent nicastrin from latching on to APP. If APP doesn’t attach to nicastrin, APP remains intact and harmless. Meanwhile, nicastrin would be free to bind all the other essential proteins that it works on.

"We want to find a particular way to block the recognition of APP but not the others," Dr. Yu said.

UT Southwestern researchers in the Center for Basic Neuroscience involved in the study were Sanjiv Shah, lead author and student research assistant; Drs. Sheu-Fen Lee and Katsuhiko Tabuchi, assistant instructors; Drs. Yi-Heng Hao and Cong Yu, postdoctoral researchers; and Dr. Thomas Südhof, director of the center. Other UT Southwestern researchers were Quincey LaPlant, Medical Scientist Training Program student; Dr. Charles E. Dann III, postdoctoral researcher in biochemistry; and Dr. Haydn Ball, assistant professor of biochemistry.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Welch Foundation, the American Health Assistance Foundation, the American Federation for Aging Research and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Aline McKenzie | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>