Keeping the body and mind healthy depends on keeping cells healthy and functioning. This means that cells need a very robust quality-control system to repair or remove damaged or misshapen proteins. Protein handling is especially important in neurons because damage or death of brain cells causes neurological disease.
Researchers in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine have identified a protein, called CHIP (C-terminal heat shock protein 70-interacting protein), that links two arms of the quality-control machinery: refolding of misshapen proteins and destruction of proteins that are damaged beyond repair.
"For all kinds of neurodegenerative disease, from Alzheimers disease to Huntingtons disease -- which was the focus of our study -- there are problems with protein folding and protein handling," said Henry Paulson, M.D., Ph.D., UI associate professor of neurology and senior author of the study. "The protein CHIP is a key player in that process. Understanding and manipulating this pathway could lead to therapies for these diseases."
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