Tiny protein targets Bax, inhibits apoptosis
Researchers at The Burnham Institute have found that humanin, a small, 24-amino acid protein recently discovered in studies of Alzheimer’s Disease, suppresses activation of the protein Bax. Bax triggers pathologic cell death in a number of diseases, including Parkinson’s, stroke, heart attack and degeneration of ovaries during menopause. These results, to be published later this month in the journal Nature (currently available at the journal’s website), suggest a novel target for therapeutic design based on inhibiting the cell destructive activity of Bax.
Bax protein is known to promote the cell death program (also known as apoptosis) latent in all cells. It does so by attacking the cell’s powerhouse, called “mitochondria”, resulting in the cell’s demise. Apoptosis is critical for normal development and maintaining cell balance. Many diseases are identified with malfunction of apoptosis: too much cell death is associated with degenerative diseases of the nervous system, stroke and heart attack; failure to activate the cell death program is one of the hallmarks of cancer.
Nancy Beddingfield | EurekAlert!
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