Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

“Molecular switch” discovered in Parkinson’s protein

23.01.2014
In one variant of Parkinson’s disease, the enzyme LRRK2 plays a central role.

Scientists at the University of Kassel have now discovered a mechanism that controls the activity of LRRK2. This opens up new approaches for the development of drugs to counter the disease, which until now is incurable.

Following Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease is the most frequently occurring neuro-degenerative illness. It is estimated that approximately 7 million people suffer from the disease worldwide. A portion of these cases have a hereditary basis and are caused by mutations in specific genes.

These so-called familial Parkinson’s variants occur with varying degrees of frequency in different ethnic groups; certain mutations are particularly widespread in Italy and Spain, for example. Mutations of a protein called LRRK2 are seen as the most frequent cause of inherited Parkinson’s disease.

A research group with scientists from Kassel University has now discovered the “molecular switch” that controls the activity of this protein. “Our results can show ways to develop new drugs to regulate the activity of this protein and thus provide new approaches for the treatment of inherited Parkinson’s disease,” explains Prof. Dr. Friedrich W. Herberg, head of the Department of Biochemistry at Kassel University. “It may also be possible to derive approaches for the treatment of other variants of Parkinson’s from these results.”

The protein LRRK2 is also called “dardarin” from the Basque term “dardara” which means “to tremble”. In human cells, the protein has a mediating function as it delivers phosphates to other proteins. Dardarin has a special and until now not fully clarified role in certain cells of the midbrain which produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. These cells in the midbrain die in persons suffering from Parkinson’s. The resulting lack of dopamine leads to the well-known Parkinson’s symptoms such as muscle tremors, depression or the loss of the sense of smell.

The Kassel researchers have investigated individual areas of the enzyme dardarin very closely. “Proteins are made up of smaller building blocks – amino acids. We were able to determine that in dardarin mutations, which are taken to be responsible for inherited Parkinson’s, the phosphate supply is disturbed in an area around the amino acid 1441,” explains Dipl. Biol. Kathrin Muda, one of the authors of a study that has now appeared in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Science”. “In particular, we found that an additional protein called a 14-3-3 protein can bind in the area 1441 and thus have an effect on the activity of dardarin. In the mutated variants the binding at the dardarin enzyme is disturbed and the activity of dardarin is no longer correctly regulated.” How this then results in the dying off of cells in the middle brain is not yet known. “If a way is found to substitute the binding with 14-3-3 through another mechanism that takes the place of the mutated dardarin variants, then we will have taken a big step in the development of anti-Parkinson’s drugs,” says Muda.

In cooperation with scientists from Tübingen University, from the Helmholtz Center Munich and the German Cancer Research Center Heidelberg, the Kassel researchers make use of so-called mass spectrometry, a process for the weighing of atoms and molecules. Through a comparison of the weight of normal and mutated LRRK2 protein particles, it was possible to draw conclusions about the phosphate supply process in the cells.

One of the focal points of the working group at Kassel University in their research is investigations of protein kinase A, one of the enzymes that is involved as a mediator in many processes in human cells, as for instance with the phosphate supply of LRRK2. In addition to Herberg and Muda, the Kassel scientists Dr. Daniela Bertinetti and Dipl. Biol. Jennifer Sarah Hermann as well as Dr. Frank Gesellchen from Glasgow were also involved in the research efforts. The Biochemistry Department of Kassel University is part of a consortium for research of human proteins (www.affinomics.org). The study received support from the EU, the Otto Braun Fund and the foundation of the actor Michael J. Fox, a sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, among other sources.

Picture of Dipl. Biol. Kathrin Muda (Foto: Uni Kassel):
www.uni-kassel.de/uni/fileadmin/datas/uni/presse/anhaenge/2014/01Muda.jpg
Picture of Prof. Dr. Friedrich W. Herberg (Foto: Uni Kassel):
www.uni-kassel.de/uni/fileadmin/datas/uni/presse/anhaenge/2014/02Herberg.jpg
Link to the study: www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/17/1312701111.abstract
Contact:
Prof. Dr. Friedrich W. Herberg
University of Kassel
Department of Biochemistry
Tel.: +49 561 804-4511
E-Mail: herberg@uni-kassel.de
Dipl. Biol. Kathrin Muda
University of Kassel
Department of Biochemistry
Tel.: +49 561 804-4479
E-Mail: kathrinmuda@uni-kassel.de

Sebastian Mense | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-kassel.de
http://www.uni-kassel.de/uni/nc/universitaet/nachrichten/article/uni-kassel-molekularer-schalter-bei-parkinson-protein-entdeckt.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Magic number colloidal clusters
13.12.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Record levels of mercury released by thawing permafrost in Canadian Arctic
13.12.2018 | University of Alberta

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magic number colloidal clusters

13.12.2018 | Life Sciences

UNLV study unlocks clues to how planets form

13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis

13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>