Navigation Links
When cells run out of fuel
Date:8/24/2009

Parkinson's disease is caused by the degeneration of neurons in the midbrain. The mechanisms leading to the loss of these neurons, however, are largely unknown. Recent research revealed that about ten per cent of cases are caused by defects in so-called Parkinson-associated genes. Furthermore, mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses, seem to play a major role. New results from researchers at the LMU Munich under the lead of associate professor Dr. Konstanze Winklhofer and Professor Christian Haass connect both phenomena, showing that two Parkinson genes maintain the function of mitochondria. "Diseases like Parkinson's where at least some cases are unambiguously related to the dysfunction of specific genes offer a promising research opportunity," explains biochemist Dr. Konstanze Winklhofer "When we understand the function of these genes, we can learn a lot about the causes of the disease, its progress and possible new therapies." Professor Wolfgang Wurst and his group of the Institute for Developmental Genetics at the Helmholtz Center Munich also contributed to this work. (Journal of Biological Chemistry, 21 August, 2009)

Four million individuals are estimated to suffer from Parkinson's disease worldwide. This neurodegenerative disorder is characterized by rigid muscles, uncontrollable tremor and slowing or even loss of voluntary movements. It is caused by the death of nerve cells in a midbrain area called substantia nigra. These neurons secrete dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in the control of movements. Thus, a loss of dopamine-producing neurons causes a dysbalance in the regulation of movements.

"Functionally impaired mitochondria have been recognized to trigger Parkinson's disease already in the early eighties," Dr. Konstanze Winklhofer says, an associate professor at the Adolf-Butenandt Institute of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt (LMU) in Munich. At this time it was discovered by accident that mitochondrial toxins can induce Parkinson's disease. The relevance of mitochondria to the loss of neurons seems plausible after all, mitochondria supply the cells with energy in form of adenosine triphosphate and play a substantial role in the regulation of cell death.

The scientists' results now combine both observations on a genetic basis. They found that the Parkinson-associated genes PINK1 and Parkin functionally interact to maintain mitochondrial function. Loss of Parkin or PINK1 function impairs the morphology and activity of mitochondria, which then produce less adenosine triphosphate. "Our results also confirm the high neuroprotective potential of Parkin", Winklhofer says. "We observed that Parkin can compensate a loss of PINK1 function, but not the other way round". Winklhofer and her colleagues have shown earlier that Parkin can protect neurons under various stress conditions.

Until today, there is no possibility to prevent or cure Parkinson's disease. All pharmacological approaches are merely symptomatic and aim at replacing the neurotransmitter dopamine. Insight into the function of Parkinson-associated genes can help to identify new targets for therapeutic strategies in order to prevent or halt the loss of dopamine-producing neurons. So far, six Parkinson-associated genes are known whose functions remain to be elucidated in detail. In the case of Parkin and PINK1 scientists have made significant steps forward and now aim at uncovering the molecular mechanisms of their functions.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Konstanze F. Winklhofer
konstanze.winklhofer@med.uni-muenchen.de
49-892-180-75483
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. ESF EURYI award winner aims to stop cancer cells reading their own DNA
2. Newly created cancer stem cells could aid breast cancer research
3. AIDS interferes with stem cells in the brain
4. Clemson scientists shed light on molecules in living cells
5. Social habits of cells may hold key to fighting diseases
6. UF scientists reveal how dietary restriction cleans cells
7. Human derived stem cells can repair rat hearts damaged by heart attack
8. Scientists identify embryonic stem cells by appearance alone
9. Cells united against cancer
10. Pittsburgh scientists identify human source of stem cells with potential to repair muscle
11. U of M begins nations first clinical trial using T-reg cells from cord blood in leukemia treatment
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2017)... and ITHACA, N.Y. , June 23, ... University, a leader in dairy research, today announced a ... to help reduce the chances that the global milk ... of this dairy project, Cornell University has become the ... the Food Supply Chain, a food safety initiative that ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and functional ... in Genoa, Italy . The first 30 robots will ... USA . The technology was developed and patented at ... IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million euro investment from ... click: ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... 16, 2017   Bridge Patient Portal , ... MD EMR Systems , an electronic medical ... GE, have established a partnership to build an ... the GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice Solution ... These new integrations will allow healthcare delivery ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/16/2017)... Ca (PRWEB) , ... August 16, 2017 , ... ... by changing into a different cell type. Many treatments for specific cancers, such ... prominent example of targeted treatment is androgen deprivation therapy for advanced prostate cancer. ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... OH (PRWEB) , ... August 16, 2017 , ... ... a beneficial microbe delivery system, announced it has secured $2M in funding from ... Queen City Angels, Carmen Innovations, and SVG Thrive Fund. With this investment, 3Bar ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... of the Inc. 5000 features a now-familiar name: BioPoint ( http://biopointinc.com/ ), ... for the third year in a row. Now in its 36th edition, ... set of quantitative metrics. In addition, BioPoint was also named to the ... Bay State . ... ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... STANFORD, Calif. , Aug. 15, 2017 After spending ... resources and support with crowdsourced data collection, GeneFo now offers this ... interested in aligning and amplifying support, adherence, and data collection vis ... with medical foundations mark the successful launch of this offer. ... GeneFo ...
Breaking Biology Technology: