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Improper protein digestion in neurons identified as a cause of familial Parkinson's
Date:3/5/2013

that plays a key role in lysosome function.

(Chaperone-mediated autophagy, or CMA, is responsible for transporting old or damaged proteins from the cell body to the lysosomes, where they are digested into amino acids and then recycled. In 2004, Dr. Sulzer and the current paper's other co-lead author, Ana Maria Cuervo, MD, PhD, professor of developmental & molecular biology, of anatomy & structural biology, and of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, showed that alpha-synuclein is degraded by the CMA pathway.)

"Now that we know this step that may be causing the disease in many patients, we can begin to develop drug treatments or genetic treatments that can enhance the digestion of these disease-triggering proteins, alpha-synuclein and LRRK2, or that remove alpha-synuclein," said Dr. Sulzer.

While LRRK2 mutations are the most common genetic cause of Parkinson's, it is too early to tell whether these findings, and therapies that might stem from them, would apply to patients with non-familial Parkinson's, the more common form of the disease. "Right now, all we can say is that it looks as though we've found a fundamental pathway that causes the buildup of alpha-synuclein in people with LRRK2 mutations and links these mutations to a common cause of the disease. We suspect that this pathway may be involved in many other Parkinson's patients," said Dr. Sulzer.

The study involved mouse neurons in tissue culture from four different animal models, neurons from the brains of patients with Parkinson's with LRRK2 mutations, and neurons derived from the skin cells of Parkinson's patients via induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology. All the lines of research confirmed the researchers' discovery.


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Contact: Karin Eskenazi
ket2116@columbia.edu
212-342-0508
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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