Especially in cases of early manifestation of the disease mutations in the so-called parkin gene are of great significance. In a collaborative effort the groups of Dr. Konstanze Winklhofer (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich) and Dr. Daniel Krappmann (GSF – Research Center for Environment and Health, Neuherberg) have now been able to reveal a novel function for the Parkin protein.
The scientists could show that Parkin prevents the induction of neuronal cell death. As reported in the “Journal of Neuroscience“, the protein activates a survival mechanism which had been known for its prominent role in immune response.
Usually, Parkinson’s disease occurs after the age of 50 and in Germany about 400,000 people are affected. It is characterized by a decline of neurons in the so-called Substantia Nigra, a structure in the midbrain that produces dopamine. The resulting deprivation of this messenger substance causes symptoms like muscular tremor at rest and restricted mobility and even complete immobility. Characteristic deposits are found in the brain, the Lewy corpuscles.
Little is known about the causes of Parkinson’s disease. It has only been known for a few years that ten to fifteen per cent of all cases are associated with mutations in certain genes.
“The parkin gene is of special interest here”, says Winklhofer. “One effect of its inactivation is that the Parkin protein loses its physiological function. This genetic defect plays a role for hereditary Parkinson’s disease, which may lead to an early onset of the disease.”
However, inactivation of the Parkin protein could also contribute to sporadic forms of the disease. In these cases massive oxidative stress probably results in misfolding and aggregation of the protein. “Interestingly, misfolding of Parkin proteins has recently been observed in the brain of patients with sporadic Parkinson’s disease”, Winklhofer reports.
The scientists could now show in their study that Parkin protects the neuronal cells by mediating the activation of the nuclear protein NF-?B (“Nuclear Factor-kappaB“). This protein is known for triggering a survival programme in many human cells, which prevents cell death under stress conditions. The experiments indicate that mutations in the parkin gene result in an impaired activation of NF-?B.
“This, however, promotes an enhanced susceptibility of neurons to stress-induced cell death”, says Winklhofer. “Further studies will now have to show whether these findings about the function of Parkin in the activation of cellular survival programmes can contribute to the development of new strategies for the treatment of Parkinson’s patients.”
Michael van den Heuvel | alfa
One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie
The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy