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:3/30/2017)... 2017  On April 6-7, 2017, Sequencing.com will host ... hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in Redmond, ... on developing health and wellness apps that provide a ... Genome is the first hackathon for personal genomics ... companies in the genomics, tech and health industries are ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... 27, 2017  Catholic Health Services (CHS) has ... Society (HIMSS) Analytics for achieving Stage 6 on ... . In addition, CHS previously earned a place ... an electronic medical record (EMR). "HIMSS ... of EMR usage in an outpatient setting.  This ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... 21, 2017   Neurotechnology , a provider ... today announced the release of the SentiVeillance ... improved facial recognition using up to 10 surveillance, ... computer. The new version uses deep neural-network-based facial ... it utilizes a Graphing Processing Unit (GPU) for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/19/2017)... ... June 19, 2017 , ... EDETEK, ... reported today that it is launching two new additions of its award-winning cloud-based ... new capabilities at the DIA 2017 Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, June 19-22, ...
(Date:6/16/2017)... ... June 16, 2017 , ... ... solutions, today announced that its Anzo Smart Data Lake® (Anzo SDL) solution ... category for the 2017 Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) CODiE Awards. ...
(Date:6/15/2017)... ... 2017 , ... The newest exhibition at the University City ... and interdisciplinary collaboration. Feature Creep, a solo exhibition by Maximillian Lawrence, opens on ... held at EKG, located at 3600 Market Street in Philadelphia, on Thursday, June ...
(Date:6/14/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Slone Partners welcomed a panel of premier ... search firm, “Building Value in Precision Medicine: Can We Overcome the Obstacles?” , ... an open discussion with expert panelists Troy Cox, CEO of Foundation Medicine, Barbara ...
Breaking Biology Technology: