Navigation Links
Scientists identify protein with a crucial role in cell death

Ageing, and the processes of deterioration that go with it, are largely attributable to cells that die off in a controlled manner. Therefore, gaining better understanding of this controlled cell death is very important in the fight against deterioration diseases like dementia.

In this light, researchers from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) connected to the K.U.Leuven, in collaboration with researchers from the Dulbecco-Telethon Institute hosted by the Veneto Institute of Molecular Medicine in Padua (Italy), have now discovered the function of the PARL protein. By studying mice that are unable to produce PARL, the researchers have discovered the significance of this protein in controlled cell death. An important step toward a good understanding of the ageing processes and of diseases like Parkinson's disease.

The cells' energy suppliers
Every living thing is composed of cells. There are a number of different cell types (brain cells, for example), each with its own particular function. To be able to perform their work, cells need energy. And this is what the mitochondria ?which convert oxygen into the necessary energy ?are responsible for. Given this vital function, scientists have suspected that the inner workings of a cell depend largely on how the mitochondria function. Therefore, it has been suspected that poorly functioning mitochondria can, among other things, lead to a disturbance in brain cells and thus contribute to Parkinson's disease.

A noble stranger...
This starting assumption brought two top researchers together: Bart De Strooper, who has extensive experience in Alzheimer research and is thus also interested in the causes of Parkinson's disease, and Luca Scorrano, who specializes in the functioning and effect of mitochondria. They set out to study PARL, a protein thought to interact with Presenilin, one of the major players in Alzheimer's disease. Previous research had already in dicated that the link between PARL and Presenilin is negligible. It was understood that PARL is important to the cell's mitochondria, but the protein's particular function has remained unknown for a long time.

'Knock-out' mice
To obtain insight into PARL's function, the researchers used mice ?called 'knock-out' mice ?that were no longer able to produce this protein. These mice deteriorated very rapidly ?losing muscular strength after only 4 weeks, which greatly reduced their capacity for breathing ?and, after 8 to 12 weeks, they died. Thus, a lack of PARL leads to weakening of (muscle) cells, a phenomenon that also occurs in the normal ageing process. This result spurred the researchers on to find out the function of PARL.

Controlled cell death
During our lifetime, cells die off in a controlled manner ?a process called apoptosis. In addition to supplying energy, mitochondria also ensure the integration and amplification of apoptosis signaling in the cell. From the research of De Strooper and Scorrano, it turns out that PARL is a key to initiating apoptosis in the mitochondria. Although the mitochondria of the knock-out mice have a normal development and are able to convert oxygen into energy, they have apparently lost their protection against apoptosis, and so the cells die off more quickly. Therefore, PARL plays a crucial role in the cells' dying off process and, consequently, probably also in the origin of diseases of ageing, like Parkinson's disease.


Source:VIB, Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology

Related biology news :

1. Scientists ID molecular switch in liver that triggers harmful effects of saturated and trans fats
2. Scientists Replicate Hepatitis C Virus in Laboratory
3. Scientists detect probable genetic cause of some Parkinsons disease cases
4. Scientists find missing enzyme for tuberculosis iron scavenging pathway
5. Scientists seek answers on what activates deadly anthrax spores
6. Yale Scientists Find MicroRNA Regulates Ras Cancer Gene
7. Scientists collaborate to assess health of global environment
8. Scientists decipher genome of fungus that can cause life-threatening infections
9. Scientists discover the cellular roots of graying hair
10. Scientists rid stem cell culture of key animal cells
11. Scientists develop new color-coded test for protein folding
Post Your Comments:

(Date:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a globally-recognized leader ... today announced that it has been awarded a ... Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation Attack Detection ... "Innovation has been a driving force within Crossmatch ... allow us to innovate and develop new technologies ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... , April 11, 2017 No ... but researchers at the New York University Tandon ... of Engineering have found that partial similarities between ... systems used in mobile phones and other electronic ... The vulnerability lies in the fact ...
(Date:4/6/2017)... , April 6, 2017 Forecasts ... ANPR, Document Readers, by End-Use (Transportation & Logistics, Government ... Oil, Gas & Fossil Generation Facility, Nuclear Power), Industrial, ... Other) Are you looking for a definitive ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... Lithuania, announced today that they have entered into a multiyear collaboration to identify ... CRISPR researchers with additional tools for gene editing across all applications. , Under ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... San Diego, CA (PRWEB) , ... ... ... BioInformatics ( ) has launched Rosalind™, the first-ever genomics analysis platform ... eliminating all bioinformatics complexity. Named in honor of pioneering researcher Rosalind Franklin, ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... , ... ComplianceOnline’s Medical Device Summit is back for its 4th year. The ... Francisco, CA. The Summit brings together current and former FDA office bearers, regulators, industry ... officials from around the world to address key issues in device compliance, quality and ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are the main causes ... each year. Especially those living in larger cities are affected by air pollution related ... the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided to take action. , “I knew I ...
Breaking Biology Technology: