Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A possible cause of Parkinson's disease discovered

Date:
February 1, 2011
Source:
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Summary:
When a person has Parkinson's disease, the dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain die. Scientists have discovered that this group of nerve cells of patients with Parkinson's contains defective nucleoli. These tiny structures within the cellular nucleus are needed for the vital process of protein synthesis. The researchers have shown in mice that disruptions in the nucleoli cause Parkinson's-like symptoms and may therefore be the cause of this disease.

"Nucleolus," or small nucleus, is the term coined by early biologists for the tiny structure within the nucleus which they saw under the microscope. In this structure within the nucleus, RNA molecules and proteins are assembled to form ribosomes, the true protein factories of cells.

Defective nucleoli have been implicated in several rare hereditary diseases, most recently also in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease. Despite intense research efforts around the world, the molecular causes of Parkinson's disease are still unclear. Under the leadership of Dr. Rosanna Parlato, scientists from the departments of Professor Dr. Guenther Schuetz and Professor Dr. Ingrid Grummt at DKFZ have investigated whether the demise of nucleoli also plays a role in this disease, which is also known as "shaking palsy."

The investigators studied dopamine-producing neurons in the brain of Parkinson's disease patients under the microscope. When Parkinson's disease occurs, this type of cells malfunctions and dies, causing the characteristic palsy symptoms. Indeed, the majority of nucleoli in these cells were found to be defective.

This discovery caused the group to investigate whether disrupted nucleoli may really cause Parkinson's-like symptoms or whether this was only an incidental finding. To this end, they modified the DNA of mice in such a way that the dopamine-producing cells of the experimental animals could only form defective nucleoli. These mice showed symptoms resembling Parkinson's disease, such as characteristically impaired movements. In addition, the dopamine-producing neurons in their brain died prematurely.

In order to find out why these symptoms occur, the researchers took a closer look at all functions of the genetically modified cells. And they found an important change: The activity of the mTOR enzyme, a key regulator of intracellular signaling pathways, was reduced in the genetically modified cells. As a result of reduced mTOR activity, the function of mitochondria, the cellular power plants, is disrupted. This functional disruption causes oxidative stress within the cell; highly reactive oxygen compounds accumulate and cause damage to a multitude of molecules in the cell.

"Defective nucleoli apparently cause oxidative stress in cells. This can lead to massive cell damage and may be a key prerequisite for the typical nerve damage of Parkinson's disease," says Dr. Rosanna Parlato. "The dopamine-producing neurons are particularly sensitive to oxidative stress." However, the scientists are not sure whether the damage in the nucleoli is really the sole cause of this neurodegeneration. "In any case, the nucleolus functions as a stress sensor showing us that a cell is in danger."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Rieker, D. Engblom, G. Kreiner, A. Domanskyi, A. Schober, S. Stotz, M. Neumann, X. Yuan, I. Grummt, G. Schutz, R. Parlato. Nucleolar Disruption in Dopaminergic Neurons Leads to Oxidative Damage and Parkinsonism through Repression of Mammalian Target of Rapamycin Signaling. Journal of Neuroscience, 2011; 31 (2): 453 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0590-10.2011

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "A possible cause of Parkinson's disease discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110201122353.htm>.
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. (2011, February 1). A possible cause of Parkinson's disease discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110201122353.htm
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "A possible cause of Parkinson's disease discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110201122353.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Stepping up their vigilance against Ebola, federal authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the US from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

AFP (Oct. 22, 2014) Polish doctors describe how they helped a paralysed man walk again, with the patient in disbelief at the return of sensation to his legs. Duration: 1:04 Video provided by AFP
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