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A new molecular zip code, and a new drug target for Huntington's disease
Date:8/20/2007

McMaster University researchers have first insight into how Huntington's disease (HD) is triggered. The research will be published online in the British Journal, Human Molecular Genetics, on Monday, August 20.

"These are exciting results by the McMaster team, said Dr. Rmi Quirion, Scientific Director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction. Even if the huntingtin protein has been known for almost 20 years, the cause of Huntingtons disease is still not clear. Data reported here shed new lights on this aspect and possibly leading to new therapeutic potential in the future."

Ray Truant, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, has been studying the biological role of the huntingtin protein and the sequences in the protein that tell it where to go within a brain cell.

Huntington disease (HD) is a neurological disorder resulting from degeneration of brain cells. The degeneration causes uncontrolled limb movements and loss of intellectual faculties, eventually leading to death. There is no treatment. HD is a familial disease, passed from parent to child through a mutation in the normal gene. The disorder is estimated to affect about one in every 10,000 persons.

Truant and PhD candidate graduate student, Randy Singh Atwal, have discovered a small protein sequence in huntingtin that allows it to locate to the part of the cell critical for protein quality control. Similar findings have been seen to be very important for other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers diseases.

Huntingtin protein is essential for normal development in all mammals, and is found in all cells, yet its function was unknown. It appears that huntingtin is crucial for a brain cells response to stress, and moves from the endoplasmic reticulum into the nucleus, the control centre of the cell. When mutant huntingtin is expressed however, it
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Contact: Veronica McGuire
vmcguir@mcmaster.ca
90-552-591-402-2169
McMaster University
Source:Eurekalert

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