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Penn biologists identify a key enzyme involved in protecting nerves from degeneration
Date:3/30/2012

g-back fashion. Yet now WldS and Nmnat failed to prevent axon degeneration, suggesting that those proteins may act on and require the presence of axonal mitochondria to maintain healthy nerves in normal flies.

Flipping that scenario around, they looked to see what happened to the mitochondria of flies upon nerve injury. When they cut the wing nerve axons, the mitochondria rapidly disappeared. Yet they can largely preserve the mitochrondria by increasing expression of Nmnat.

Their results, taken together with the findings of other studies, suggest that Nmnat may stabilize mitochondria in some way in order to keep axons in a healthy state.

"We have some hope that these proteins or their activity may someday serve as drug targets or could provide the foundation for a therapeutic advance," Bonini said. "But right now, my hope is that the power of the fly model will open up a lot of new directions of research and new pathways that could be targets for development in the future."


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Contact: Katherine Unger Baillie
kbaillie@upenn.edu
215-898-9194
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert

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