Move over, plaques and tangles.
Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center have identified a previously unrecognized type of pathology in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease.
These tangle-like structures appear at early stages of Alzheimer's and are not found in other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease.
What makes these tangles distinct is that they sequester proteins involved in RNA splicing, the process by which instructional messages from genes are cut and pasted together. The researchers show that the appearance of these tangles is linked to widespread changes in RNA splicing in Alzheimer's brains compared to healthy brains.
The finding could change scientists' understanding of how the disease develops and progresses, by explaining how genes that have been linked to Alzheimer's contribute their effects, and could lead to new biomarkers, diagnostic approaches, and therapies.
The results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Early Edition.
"We were very surprised to find alterations in proteins that are responsible for RNA splicing in Alzheimer's, which could have major implications for the disease mechanism," says Allan Levey, MD, PhD, chair of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Emory ADRC.
"This is a brand new arena," says James Lah, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Cognitive Neurology program. "Many Alzheimer's investigators have looked at how the disease affects alternative splicing of individual genes. Our results suggest a global distortion of RNA processing is taking place."
This research was led by Drs. Levey, Lah, and Junmin Peng, PhD, who was previously associate professor of genetics at Emory and is now a faculty member at St Jude Children's Research Hospital. T
|Contact: Holly Korschun|
Emory Health Sciences