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Novel protein fragments may protect against Alzheimer's
Date:5/13/2014

lular shape. They serve as 'train tracks' for movement of biological material," said Prof. Gozes. "This is very important to nerve cells, because they have long processes and would otherwise collapse. In Alzheimer's disease, these microtubules break down. The newly discovered protein fragments, just like NAP before them, work to protect microtubules, thereby protecting the cell."

Down the tubes

In her new study, Prof. Gozes and her team looked at the subunit of the microtubule the tubulin and the protein TAU (tubulin-associated unit), important for assembly and maintenance of the microtubule. Abnormal TAU proteins form the tangles that contribute to Alzheimer's; increased tangle accumulation is indicative of cognitive deterioration. Prof. Gozes decided to test both the tubulin and the TAU proteins for NAP-like sequences. After confirming NAP-like sequences in both tubulin subunits and in TAU, she tested the fragments in tissue cultures for nerve-cell protecting properties against amyloid peptides, the cause of plaque build up in Alzheimer patients' brains.

"From the tissue culture, we moved to a 10-month-old transgenic mouse model with frontotemporal dementia-like characteristics, which exhibits TAU pathology and cognitive decline," said Prof. Gozes. "We tested one compound a tubulin fragment and saw that it protected against cognitive deficits. When we looked at the "dementia"-afflicted brain, there was a reduction in the NAP parent protein, but upon treatment with the tubulin fragment, the protein was restored to normal levels."

Prof. Gozes and her team also measured the brain-to-body mass ratio, an indicator of brain degeneration, and saw a significant decrease in the mouse model compared to normal mice. Following the introduction of the tubulin fragments, however, the mouse's brain to body ratio returned to normal. "We clearly see here the protective effect of the treatment," said Prof. Gozes. "We witnessed the res
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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