Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Learning how the brain takes out its trash may help decode neurological diseases

Date:
August 29, 2013
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
Imagine that garbage haulers don't exist. Slowly, the trash accumulates in our offices, our homes, it clogs the streets and damages our cars, causes illness and renders normal life impossible.

Lysosome as the engine behind garbage uptake in the cell.
Credit: Haoxing Xu

Imagine that garbage haulers don't exist. Slowly, the trash accumulates in our offices, our homes, it clogs the streets and damages our cars, causes illness and renders normal life impossible.

Related Articles


Garbage in the brain, in the form of dead cells, must also be removed before it accumulates, because it can cause both rare and common neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's. Now, University of Michigan researchers are a leap closer to decoding the critical process of how the brain clears dead cells, said Haoxing Xu, associate professor in the U-M Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.

A new U-M study identified two critical components of this cell clearing process: an essential calcium channel protein, TRPML1, that helps the so-called garbage collecting cells, called microphages or microglia, to clear out the dead cells; and alipid molecule, which helps activate TRPML1 and the process that allows the microphages to remove these dead cells.

Moreover, the Xu lab identified a synthetic chemical compound that can activate TRPML1. Because this chemical compound ultimately helps activate this cell-clearing process, it provides a drug target that could help combat these neurological diseases.

"This is clearly a drug target," Xu said. "What this paper picks out is exactly what is going wrong in this process."

Scientists began by looking at a very rare neurodegenerative disease called Type IV Mucolipidosis, a childhood neurodegenerative disease characterized by multiple disabilities.

Xu's group found that lack of TRPML1 function, which is the channel through which calcium is released from the lysosome -- the cell's recycling center -- into the microphage cells, contributes to these neurodegenerative conditions. If this calcium channel doesn't work, calcium cannot be released, and dead cells aren't removed, Xu said. The synthetic chemical compound stimulates the TRPML1 calcium channel to release the calcium into the cell.

Further, dead cells "are bad for live cells," Xu said. An excess of dead cells leads the macrophage cells to also kill healthy neurons necessary for neurological function, which in turn can lead to these neurodegenerative diseases.

There are many neurodegenerative diseases, some very rare and some more common, such as Parkinson's and ALS. The common thread among them is the dearth of live and functioning neurons, which prevents the neurological system from carrying out normal functions, Xu said.

Thus, identifying a lipid molecule and also chemical compounds that stimulates proper function of the TRMPL1 function could revolutionize the treatment of these neurodegenerative diseases.

The next step in Xu's research is to test how these general observations are helpful to the neurological diseases and whether the compound is effective in animal models of neurological diseases.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Mohammad Samie, Xiang Wang, Xiaoli Zhang, Andrew Goschka, Xinran Li, Xiping Cheng, Evan Gregg, Marlene Azar, Yue Zhuo, AbigailG. Garrity, Qiong Gao, Susan Slaugenhaupt, Jim Pickel, SergeyN. Zolov, LoisS. Weisman, GuyM. Lenk, Steve Titus, Marthe Bryant-Genevier, Noel Southall, Marugan Juan, Marc Ferrer, Haoxing Xu. A TRP Channel in the Lysosome Regulates Large Particle Phagocytosis via Focal Exocytosis. Developmental Cell, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2013.08.003

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Learning how the brain takes out its trash may help decode neurological diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130829124347.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2013, August 29). Learning how the brain takes out its trash may help decode neurological diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130829124347.htm
University of Michigan. "Learning how the brain takes out its trash may help decode neurological diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130829124347.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals 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
New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) A new species of fish is discovered living five miles beneath the ocean surface, making it the deepest living fish on earth. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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