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
Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy