Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists identify protein with a crucial role in cell death

14.07.2006
Ageing, and the processes of deterioration that go with it, are largely attributable to cells that die off in a controlled manner.

Therefore, gaining better understanding of this controlled cell death is very important in the fight against deterioration diseases like dementia. In this light, researchers from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) connected to the K.U.Leuven, in collaboration with researchers from the Dulbecco-Telethon Institute hosted by the Veneto Institute of Molecular Medicine in Padua (Italy), have now discovered the function of the PARL protein. By studying mice that are unable to produce PARL, the researchers have discovered the significance of this protein in controlled cell death. An important step toward a good understanding of the ageing processes and of diseases like Parkinson’s disease.

The cells’ energy suppliers

Every living thing is composed of cells. There are a number of different cell types (brain cells, for example), each with its own particular function. To be able to perform their work, cells need energy. And this is what the mitochondria - which convert oxygen into the necessary energy - are responsible for. Given this vital function, scientists have suspected that the inner workings of a cell depend largely on how the mitochondria function. Therefore, it has been suspected that poorly functioning mitochondria can, among other things, lead to a disturbance in brain cells and thus contribute to Parkinson’s disease.

A noble stranger...

This starting assumption brought two top researchers together: Bart De Strooper, who has extensive experience in Alzheimer research and is thus also interested in the causes of Parkinson’s disease, and Luca Scorrano, who specializes in the functioning and effect of mitochondria. They set out to study PARL, a protein thought to interact with Presenilin, one of the major players in Alzheimer’s disease. Previous research had already indicated that the link between PARL and Presenilin is negligible. It was understood that PARL is important to the cell’s mitochondria, but the protein’s particular function has remained unknown for a long time.

‘Knock-out’ mice

To obtain insight into PARL’s function, the researchers used mice - called ‘knock-out’ mice - that were no longer able to produce this protein. These mice deteriorated very rapidly - losing muscular strength after only 4 weeks, which greatly reduced their capacity for breathing - and, after 8 to 12 weeks, they died. Thus, a lack of PARL leads to weakening of (muscle) cells, a phenomenon that also occurs in the normal ageing process. This result spurred the researchers on to find out the function of PARL.

Controlled cell death

During our lifetime, cells die off in a controlled manner - a process called apoptosis. In addition to supplying energy, mitochondria also ensure the integration and amplification of apoptosis signaling in the cell. From the research of De Strooper and Scorrano, it turns out that PARL is a key to initiating apoptosis in the mitochondria. Although the mitochondria of the knock-out mice have a normal development and are able to convert oxygen into energy, they have apparently lost their protection against apoptosis, and so the cells die off more quickly. Therefore, PARL plays a crucial role in the cells’ dying off process and, consequently, probably also in the origin of diseases of ageing, like Parkinson’s disease.

Ann Van Gysel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.vib.be

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>