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Assembly of a protein degradation machine could lead to treatments in cancer, neurological diseases
Date:5/6/2013

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Kansas State University scientists helped discover new details about an intricate process in cells. Their finding may advance treatments for cancer and neurological diseases.

Kansas State University researchers Jeroen Roelofs, assistant professor, and Chingakham Ranjit Singh, research assistant professor -- both in the Division of Biology -- led part of the study. Both also are research affiliates with the university's Johnson Cancer Research Center. They worked with colleagues at Harvard Medical School, the University of California-San Francisco and the University of Kansas. The scientific journal Nature recently published the team's observations, titled "Reconfiguration of the proteasome during chaperone-mediated assembly."

The research focused on proteasomes, protein complexes inside the cells of humans and other organisms that help keep the cells healthy.

"The proteasome is a large, molecular machine in the cell that degrades other proteins," Roelofs said. "It's important for protein quality control as well as for the cell's ability quickly remove specific proteins, thereby ensuring the cell's health and proper function."

The goal was to better understand how the various particles inside proteasomes work together to make the proteasomes function -- think the gears and components needed, and in what order, to build a working machine. Scientists believe that disruption of two key particles -- and consequently a proteasome's ability to work correctly -- has implications for cancers as well as various neurological degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases.

The Nature study built on research that Roelofs made as a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School in 2009. He found that proteins called chaperones play a key role in the assembly process of two particles that when connected, gives proteasomes the ability to scrub unwanted proteins from cel
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Contact: Jeroen Roelofs
jroelofs@k-state.edu
785-532-3969
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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