Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Disease-causing Protein Protects Against Nerve Damage In Parkinson's Disease

Date:
November 7, 2005
Source:
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered that a protein associated with causing neurodegenerative conditions may, when appearing in normal amounts, actually protect against neurodegeneration.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered that a protein associated with causing neurodegenerative conditions may, when appearing in normal amounts, actually protect against neurodegeneration.

Related Articles


The findings, appearing in today's issue of the journal Cell, have surprised the researchers, because an excess of the same specific protein - alpha-synuclein - causes Parkinson's disease.

"It's the first time that anyone has shown that synuclein has any positive function at all in the body, and this is important because it's been known to be involved in neurodegeneration," said Dr. Thomas Südhof, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Basic Neuroscience. Dr. Südhof also is an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The key to their findings was determining the interaction between alpha-synuclein and another protein - cysteine-string-protein-alpha, or CSP-alpha. The researchers' investigation involved several strains of mutant mice, which produced differing amounts of CSP-alpha or alpha-synuclein.

CSP-alpha is a "co-chaperone," meaning that it helps other proteins fold into their normal shapes, a vital process in the instantaneous reactions that occur at terminals of a nerve cell. When mutant mice lack only CSP-alpha, they appear normal for their first three weeks, then undergo rapid nerve degeneration and die at one to four months of age.

When mutant mice lack only alpha-synuclein, on the other hand, they continue to appear normal as they age, indicating that alpha-synuclein might not be essential in healthy nerve cells.

But mice that have been bred to produce an excess of human alpha-synuclein undergo a slowly progressing nerve degeneration resembling Parkinson's.

The researchers bred mice lacking CSP with mice with excessive human synuclein in their brains, expecting to see a faster descent into the Parkinson's-like symptoms in the offspring. Instead, they produced apparently healthy animals. In their terms, the alpha-synuclein "rescued" the mice from the harmful effects of lacking CSP-alpha.

The results were "exactly the opposite of what I expected," said Dr. Sreeganga Chandra, instructor in the Center for Basic Neuroscience and lead author of the study. "The rescued animals can live for one year or longer."

The researchers also bred mice that produced neither CSP-alpha nor alpha-synuclein and found they suffered neurodegeneration faster than mice just lacking CSP-alpha - another sign that alpha-synuclein protects against a lack of CSP-alpha.

In humans, clumps of alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies, are found in the brain cells of patients with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases. The researchers speculate that the formation of Lewy bodies may take alpha-synuclein out of circulation in cells, thus removing its protective action.

Testing this hypothesis would involve looking for mutations in the genes for CSP-alpha or alpha-synuclein in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. "Trying to understand what's going on in a dying brain is very difficult," said Dr. Südhof, who directs the Gill Center for Research on Brain Cell Communication and the C. Vincent Prothro Center for Research in Basic Neuroscience.

The researchers also found that alpha-synuclein doesn't bind to or react with the same proteins that CSP-alpha does, so it doesn't simply act as a substitute. However, both molecules bind to the membranes of synaptic vesicles - small spheres that contain the nerve cell's neurotransmitters, chemicals that carry signals between brain cells - indicating that they both act at the vesicles' surface.

"There's a pathway, but we don't really know all the players in this pathway," Dr. Chandra said.

Other researchers involved in the work were Gilbert Gallardo, student research assistant at the Center for Basic Neuroscience, and researchers from Germany and Spain.

The work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health, the American Parkinson Disease Association and the Spanish Ministry of Education.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Disease-causing Protein Protects Against Nerve Damage In Parkinson's Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051107082902.htm>.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2005, November 7). Disease-causing Protein Protects Against Nerve Damage In Parkinson's Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051107082902.htm
UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Disease-causing Protein Protects Against Nerve Damage In Parkinson's Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051107082902.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) — The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) — President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) — The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) — The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins