Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unleashing the watchdog protein: Research opens door to new drug therapies for Parkinson's disease

Date:
May 9, 2013
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Researchers have unlocked a new door to developing drugs to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease.

Scientists have discovered the three-dimensional structure of the protein Parkin.
Credit: Image courtesy of McGill University

McGill University researchers have unlocked a new door to developing drugs to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease. Collaborating teams led by Dr. Edward A. Fon at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital -The Neuro, and Dr. Kalle Gehring in the Department of Biochemistry at the Faculty of Medicine, have discovered the three-dimensional structure of the protein Parkin. Mutations in Parkin cause a rare hereditary form of Parkinson's disease and are likely to also be involved in more commonly occurring forms of Parkinson's disease.

Related Articles


The Parkin protein protects neurons from cell death due to an accumulation of defective mitochondria. Mitochondria are the batteries in cells, providing the power for cell functions. This new knowledge of Parkin's structure has allowed the scientists to design mutations in Parkin that make it better at recognizing damaged mitochondria and therefore possibly provide better protection for nerve cells.

The research will be published online May 9 in the journal Science.

"The majority of Parkinson's patients suffer from a sporadic form of the disease that occurs from a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors which are still not fully understood, explains Dr. Fon, neurologist at The Neuro and head of the McGill Parkinson Program, a National Parkinson Foundation Centre of Excellence. "A minority of patients have genetic mutations in genes such as Parkin that cause the disease. Although there are differences between the genetic and sporadic forms, there is good reason to believe that understanding one will inform us about the other. It's known that toxins that poison mitochondria can lead to Parkinson's-like symptoms in humans and animals. Recently, Parkin was shown to be a key player in the cell's system for identifying and removing damaged mitochondria."

Dr. Gehring, head of McGill's structural biology centre, GRASP, likens Parkin to a watchdog for damaged mitochondria. "Our structural studies show that Parkin is normally kept in check by a part of the protein that acts as a leash to restrict Parkin activity. When we made mutations in this specific 'leash' region in the protein, we found that Parkin recognized damaged mitochondria more quickly. If we can reproduce this response with a drug rather than mutations, we might be able to slow the progression of disease in Parkinson's patients."

Parkin is an enzyme in cells that attaches a small protein, ubiquitin, to other proteins to mark them for degradation. For example, when mitochondria are damaged, Parkin is switched on which leads to the clearing of the dysfunctional mitochondria. This is an important process because damaged mitochondria are a major source of cellular stress and thought to play a central role in the death of neurons in neurodegenerative diseases.

Husband and wife team, Drs. Jean-François Trempe and Véronique Sauvé, are lead authors on the paper. Dr. Sauvé led the Gehring team that used X-ray crystallography to determine the structure of Parkin. Dr. Trempe in the Fon laboratory directed the functional studies of Parkin.

"We are proud to invest in scientific excellence and to fund discovery stage research so that investigators like Dr. Gehring and Fon in Canada can test new theories and pursue promising new leads. We believe that our National Research Program plays an important role in the global search for better treatments and a cure for Parkinson's disease," says Joyce Gordon, President and CEO, Parkinson Society Canada.

Funding was provided by grants from the Parkinson Society Canada, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and infrastructure support from the Fonds de recherche Québec and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jean-François Trempe, Véronique Sauvé, Karl Grenier, Marjan Seirafi, Matthew Y. Tang, Marie Ménade, Sameer Al-Abdul-Wahid, Jonathan Krett, Kathy Wong, Guennadi Kozlov, Bhushan Nagar, Edward A. Fon, Kalle Gehring. Structure of Parkin Reveals Mechanisms for Ubiquitin Ligase Activation. Science, May 9, 2013 DOI: 10.1126/science.1237908

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Unleashing the watchdog protein: Research opens door to new drug therapies for Parkinson's disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509154556.htm>.
McGill University. (2013, May 9). Unleashing the watchdog protein: Research opens door to new drug therapies for Parkinson's disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509154556.htm
McGill University. "Unleashing the watchdog protein: Research opens door to new drug therapies for Parkinson's disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509154556.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) — NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said the risk of Ebola becoming an epidemic in the U.S. is essentially zero Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum. He also said an Ebola vaccine will be tested in West Africa in the next few months. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) — A nurse who vowed to defy Maine's voluntary quarantine for health care workers who treated Ebola patients followed through on her promise Thursday, leaving her home for an hour-long bike ride. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Launches Fitness Band After Accidental Reveal

Microsoft Launches Fitness Band After Accidental Reveal

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) — Microsoft accidentally revealed its upcoming fitness band on Wednesday, so the company went ahead and announced it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bracing to Meet a Killer: Aid Workers Prep for Ebola in Geneva

Bracing to Meet a Killer: Aid Workers Prep for Ebola in Geneva

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) — At the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, around 30 doctors, nurses, lab technicians and water and sanitation workers are gathered for a crash-course in how to safely deal Ebola. Duration: 01:31 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