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Free radical cell death switch identified

The researchers also found a tight link between MST and another family of molecules called FOXO proteins. FOXO proteins turn on genes in the nucleus, the command center of the cell. Once stimulated by oxidative stress, MST acts in its capacity as an enzyme to modify and thereby activate the FOXO proteins, instructing the FOXO proteins to move from the periphery of the cell into the nucleus of neurons. Once in the nucleus, the FOXO proteins were found to turn on genes that commit neurons to programmed death.

The discovery of the MST-FOXO biochemical switch mechanism fills a gap in our understanding of how oxidative stress elicits biological responses in neurons, and may include besides cell death, neuronal dysfunction and neuronal recovery. Since oxidative stress in neurons and other cells in the body contribute to tissue damage in a variety of disorders, including stroke, ischemic heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and diabetes, identification of the MST-FOXO switch mechanism could provide potential new targets for the diagnosis and treatment of many common age-associated diseases.


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Source:Harvard Medical School


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