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Cholesterol transporter structure decoded
Date:3/21/2014

just clues about how cholesterol is transported into the mitochondria. "We now also have a much better understanding of how TSPO recognizes and binds to diagnostic markers and drugs", explains Markus Zweckstetter, head of research groups at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, and at the Center for Nanoscale Microscopy and Molecular Physiology of the Brain (CNMPB) at the University Medical Center of Gttingen (UMG).

TSPO has long been successfully used in diagnostics and treatment of a number of diseases. "When the brain is injured or inflamed, its cells produce more TSPO. This fact is used in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's", explains Stefan Becker, a protein chemist and Max Planck researcher who works next door to Zweckstetter.

Physicians also use radioactively tagged molecules such as PK11195 to visualize inflamed areas of the brain. A detailed understanding of how TSPO binds to such markers opens up novel paths for diagnostic imaging and could constitute an important step along the way to early detection of such diseases and inflammations.

TSPO also binds several medicinal drugs such as diazepam, also known by the trade name of Valium. Not only is diazepam a widely prescribed sedative; it is also used in the treatment of anxiety and epileptic seizures. The Gttingen researchers hope that detailed information about the transporter's structure will help to develop new TSPO-binding drugs.


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Contact: Markus Zweckstetter
markus.zweckstetter@dzne.de
49-551-201-2220
DZNE - German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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