Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Removing protein 'garbage' in nerve cells may help control 2 neurodegenerative diseases

20.12.2012
Neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center say they have new evidence that challenges scientific dogma involving two fatal neurodegenerative diseases — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) — and, in the process, have uncovered a possible therapeutic target as a novel strategy to treat both disorders.
The study, posted online today in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, found that the issue in both diseases is the inability of the cell's protein garbage disposal system to "pull out" and destroy TDP-43, a powerful, sometimes mutated gene that produces excess amounts of protein inside the nucleus of a nerve cell, or neuron.

"This finding suggests that if we're able to 'rev up' that clearance machinery and help the cell get rid of the bad actors, it could possibly reduce or slow the development of ALS and FTD," says the study's lead investigator, neuroscientist Charbel E-H Moussa, MB, PhD. "The potential of such an advance is very exciting." He cautions, though, that determining if this strategy is possible in humans could take many years and will involve teams of researchers.

The way to rev up protein disposal is to add parkin — the cell's natural disposal units — to brain cells. In this study, Moussa and his colleagues demonstrated in two animal experiments that delivering parkin genes to neurons slowed down ALS pathologies linked to TDP-43."

Moussa says that his study further demonstrates that clumps known as "inclusions" of TDP-43 protein found inside neuron bodies in both disorders do not promote these diseases, as some researchers have argued.

What happens in both diseases is that this protein, which is a potent regulator of thousands of genes, leaves the nucleus and collects inside the gel-like cytoplasm of the neuron. In ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, this occurs in motor neurons, affecting movement; in FTD, it occurs in the frontal lobe of the brain, leading to dementia.

"In both diseases, TDP-43 is over-expressed or mutated, and the scientific debate has been whether loss of TDP-43 in the nucleus or gain of TDP-43 in the cytoplasm is the problem," Moussa says.

"Our study suggests TDP-43 in the cell cytoplasm is deposited there in order to eventually be destroyed — without contributing to disease — and that TDP-43 in the nucleus is causing the damage," he says. "Because so much protein is being produced, the cell can't keep up with removing these toxic particles in the nucleus and the dumping of them in the cytoplasm. There may be a way to fix this problem."

Moussa has long studied parkin, a molecule best known, when mutated and inactive, for its role in a familial form of Parkinson's disease. He has studied it in Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. His hypothesis, which he has demonstrated in several recently published studies, is that parkin could help remove the toxic fragments of amyloid beta protein that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients.

What's more, he developed a method to clear this amyloid beta when it begins to build up in neurons — a gene therapy strategy he has shown works in rodents. Work continues on this potential therapy.

In this study, Moussa found that parkin "tags" TDP-43 protein in the nucleus with a molecule that takes it from the nucleus and into the cytoplasm of the cell. "This is good. If TDP-43 is in the cytoplasm, it will prevent further nuclear damage and deregulation of genetic materials that determine protein identity," he says.

"This discovery challenges the dogma that accumulation of TDP-43 in the cytoplasm is," Moussa says. "We think parkin is tagging proteins in the nucleus for destruction, but there just isn't enough parkin around — compared with over-production of TDP-43 — to do the job."

Moussa says his next research steps will be to inject a drug that activates parkin to see whether that can prolong the lifespan and reduce motor defects in mice with ALS.

This work was supported by a grant (AG30378) from the National Institutes of Health and by Georgetown University funding.

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC's mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical Translation and Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. In fiscal year 2010-11, GUMC accounted for 85 percent of the university's sponsored research funding.

Karen Mallet | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.georgetown.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Colorectal cancer risk factors decrypted
13.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

nachricht Algae Have Land Genes
13.07.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>