Potential for treatments anticipated
A collaborative discovery involving Kansas State University researchers may lead to the first universal treatment for dystonia, a neurological disorder that affects nearly half a million Americans.
Michal Zolkiewski, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Kansas State University, and Jeffrey Brodsky at the University at Pittsburgh co-led a study that focused on a mutated protein associated with early onset torsion dystonia, or EOTD, the most severe type of dystonia that typically affects adolescents before the age of 20. Dystonia causes involuntary and sustained muscle contractions that can lead to paralysis and abnormal postures.
"It's a painful and debilitating disease for which there is no cure or treatment that would be effective for all patients," Zolkiewski said. "There are some treatments that are being tested, but nothing is really available to those patients that would cure the symptoms completely."
In addition to Zolkiewski and Brodsky, researchers involved in the study included Hui-Chuan Wu, Kansas State University doctoral student in biochemistry and molecular biophysics, Taiwan, and colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the University of Adelaide in Australia.
The Journal of Biological Chemistry recently published the team's study, "The BiP molecular chaperone plays multiple roles during the biogenesis of TorsinA, a AAA+ ATPase associated with the neurological disease Early-Onset Torsion Dystonia." The study was funded by the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.
Researchers built the study on a decade-old discovery that patients with early onset torsion dystonia typically have a mutated gene that encodes the protein TorsionA.
"TorsinA is a protein that all people have in their bodies," Zolkiewski said. "It appears to perform an important role in the nervous system, but currently nobody knows what that role is. There also is no understanding of the link between the mutation and dystonia."
In order to study protein expression in a living organism, researchers used yeast — one of the simplest living systems. The yeast was engineered to produce the human protein TorsionA.
Observations revealed that a second protein named BiP — pronounced "dip" — helps process the TorsinA protein and maintain its active form. Additionally, researchers found that BiP also guides TorsinA to being destroyed by cells if the protein is defective. Humans carry the BiP protein as well as the TorsinA protein.
"BiP is a molecular chaperone that assists other proteins in maintaining their function," Zolkiewski said. "In this study we found that BiP really has a dual role. On one hand it's helping TorsinA and on the other it's leading to its degradation."
Future studies may focus on BiP as a target for treating dystonia, as modulating BiP in human cells would affect TorsinA, Zolkiewski said.
"Because we don't know what exactly the function of TorsinA is, we may not be able to design a treatment based on that protein," Zolkiewski said. "We know what BiP does, however. It is a pretty well-studied chaperone, which makes it much easier to work with."
Michal Zolkiewski | Eurek Alert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
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...
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...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
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...
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...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy