Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Neurodegenerative diseases: Transmission routes of spreading protein particles

Date:
March 27, 2013
Source:
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Summary:
A new study on cell cultures gives insights into the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.

Nerve cells under the microscope: Spreading of protein particles between cells. Cells that produce protein particles (shown in turquoise) trigger formation of deposits of the same protein (shown in green) in neighboring cells.
Credit: J. Hofmann

In diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's endogenous proteins accumulate in the brain, eventually leading to the death of nerve cells. These deposits, which consist of abnormally formed proteins, are supposed to migrate between interconnected areas of the brain, thereby contributing to the development of the illness. Now, a new laboratory study by scientists from Germany and the US shows that certain protein particles are indeed capable of multiplying and spreading from one cell to the next. The investigation was conducted by researchers of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Bonn and Munich who cooperated with scientists from the US and from other German institutions.

Related Articles


The results are now published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Are particles consisting of deformed proteins capable of moving from one cell's interior to the next, multiplying and spreading as in a chain reaction? The team of scientists headed by Ina Vorberg, who is a researcher at the DZNE site in Bonn and a professor at the University of Bonn, investigated this hypothesis. The scientists did so with the help of cell cultures, which allowed them to adapt experiments to specific questions.

The researchers used cultured brain cells that originated from mice. The genetic code of a model protein was transferred into these cells, enabling the scientists to control production of the protein.

A yeast particle

The blueprint of the molecule was extracted from yeast DNA. This protein does not exist in humans. Nevertheless, the scientists chose this particular protein because it had several properties that were relevant for the study: In its natural environment -- the yeast cell -- it is capable of forming replicating "aggregates" (i. e. large protein particles). The protein deforms during this process. Now, the question was, whether something similar would happen in mammalian cells.

"At first, our mouse cells produced the protein, but no particles formed," Vorberg reports. "The situation changed when we exposed the cells to aggregates of the same protein. Suddenly, the proteins which had been in solution started building clumps."

Diffusing aggregates

Once this reaction had been triggered the cells went on producing aggregates. The researchers noticed that these clumps spread into neighboring cells, where they initiated synthesis of further aggregates.

"We have experimentally shown that certain protein particles originating from the cytosol, i. e. from inside the cells, are able to spread between cells. This means that in mammalian cells there are mechanisms capable of triggering such a chain reaction. Accordingly, what we have shown in our model system may be applicable to neurodegenerative diseases," Vorberg comments.

Propagation of aggregates was most effective between adjacent cells. "At least in our model system, protein particles are not released efficiently into the medium and assimilated by neighboring cells. The most effective transmission happens by direct cell-to-cell contact. It is possible that cells form protrusions and that aggregates move from one cell to the next through this connection," says the neuroscientist. What is happening here will be the focus of further research.

Basis for potential therapies

"It is important to know how protein particles disseminate," Vorberg emphasizes. "Disease-related protein particles might propagate in a similar way to the model protein we investigated."

Unraveling the mechanism for transmission between cells could lead to new methods for treatment. "If we find a way to prevent the spreading of disease-related protein particles, we might be able to interfere with the progression of the diseases," Vorberg says.


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. J. P. Hofmann, P. Denner, C. Nussbaum-Krammer, P.-H. Kuhn, M. H. Suhre, T. Scheibel, S. F. Lichtenthaler, H. M. Schatzl, D. Bano, I. M. Vorberg. Cell-to-cell propagation of infectious cytosolic protein aggregates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1217321110

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Neurodegenerative diseases: Transmission routes of spreading protein particles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327104156.htm>.
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. (2013, March 27). Neurodegenerative diseases: Transmission routes of spreading protein particles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327104156.htm
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Neurodegenerative diseases: Transmission routes of spreading protein particles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327104156.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. 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