New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

New insights into the development of Parkinson's disease in the brain

September 11, 2023
Tokyo Medical and Dental University
Researchers have identified a new pathological mechanism for a familial type of Parkinson's disease caused by a mutation in the CHCHD2 gene. Mutant CHCHD2 protein is mislocalized in cells and leads to alpha-synuclein protein aggregates via interactions with another protein, known as Csnk1e/d. These findings indicate that Csnk1e/d inhibition may slow or halt Parkinson's disease development in patients with CHCHD2 mutations, providing new hope for affected families.

Parkinson's disease, characterized by various motor dysfunctions, is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the world. It is known that specific gene mutations that are passed down through families are responsible for some cases of Parkinson's disease. But now, researchers from Japan have found that this might open the doors to new therapies.

In a study published recently in EMBO Molecular Medicine, researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) have identified the cellular processes that likely lead to Parkinson's disease in patients with mutations in a specificgene.

Motor disorders seen in Parkinson's disease are caused by the death of cells that produce dopamine -- an important molecule for cellular communication -- in a brain region known as the substantia nigra. In this region, protein aggregates containing a protein known as alpha-synuclein form. However, the exact cause and the process remains unknown.

Researchers from TMDU decided to investigate these mechanisms in a familial form of Parkinson's disease caused by mutations in CHCHD2, a gene encoding a specific domain containing two CHCHD2 proteins. To do this, they induced a CHCHD2 mutation in both cell cultures and mice.

"When we looked at normal CHCHD2 protein in cells, it was located in the mitochondria, which provides energy to the cell," says lead author of the study Satoru Torii. "But the mutant CHCHD2 was expressed in a very different area -- in the cell cytosol, where it recruited another protein known as casein kinase 1 epsilon/delta (Csnk1e/d) and led to the aggregation of phosphorylated alpha-synuclein and neurofilaments."

Because the mutant CHCHD2 caused Parkinson's disease-related pathology in cells, the researchers investigated its effects in mice using two different methods of expressing mutant CHCHD2. All mice with CHCHD2 mutation had motor impairments, and their brains showed mislocalized CHCHD2 and aggregated alpha-synuclein in the dopamine-producing cells of the substantia nigra. The same observations were made when the research team looked at a postmortem brain of a patient with Parkinson's disease caused by a CHCHD2 mutation, and in laboratory cell cultures harvested from another patient.

"The most exciting finding for us was that, when we inhibited the associated protein Csnk1e/d, we saw motor improvements and fewer Parkinson's disease-related symptoms in the Parkinson's disease model mice, as well as less pathology in cells grown from a patient with a CHCHD2 gene mutation," explains Shigeomi Shimizu, senior author of the study. "This suggests that it may be possible to delay -- or even prevent -- Parkinson's disease development in people with this mutation."

Given that there are currently no treatments that effectively slow or halt the progression of Parkinson's disease, the findings of this study are very encouraging, especially for patients with CHCHD2 mutations. The results also improve our understanding of how Parkinson's disease can develop in the brain and bring hope to all patients and their families.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Tokyo Medical and Dental University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Satoru Torii, Satoko Arakawa, Shigeto Sato, Kei‐ichi Ishikawa, Daisuke Taniguchi, Hajime Tajima Sakurai, Shinya Honda, Yuuichi Hiraoka, Masaya Ono, Wado Akamatsu, Nobutaka Hattori, Shigeomi Shimizu. Involvement of casein kinase 1 epsilon/delta (Csnk1e/d) in the pathogenesis of familial Parkinson's disease caused by CHCHD2. EMBO Molecular Medicine, 2023; 15 (9) DOI: 10.15252/emmm.202317451

Cite This Page:

Tokyo Medical and Dental University. "New insights into the development of Parkinson's disease in the brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2023. <>.
Tokyo Medical and Dental University. (2023, September 11). New insights into the development of Parkinson's disease in the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2024 from
Tokyo Medical and Dental University. "New insights into the development of Parkinson's disease in the brain." ScienceDaily. (accessed March 2, 2024).

Explore More
from ScienceDaily