Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida have uncovered a toxic cellular process by which a protein that maintains the health of neurons becomes deficient and can lead to dementia. The findings shed new light on the link between culprits implicated in two devastating neurological diseases: and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The study is published Dec. 10 in the online issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
There is no cure for frontotemporal dementia, a disorder that affects personality, behavior and language and is second only to Alzheimer's disease as the most common form of early-onset dementia. While much research is devoted to understanding the role of each defective protein in these diseases, the team at Mayo Clinic took a new approach to examine the interplay between TDP-43, a protein that regulates messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) — biological molecules that carry the information of genes and are used by cells to guide protein synthesis — and sortilin, which regulates the protein progranulin.
"We sought to investigate how TDP-43 regulates the levels of the protein progranulin, given that extreme progranulin levels at either end of the spectrum, too low or too high, can respectively lead to neurodegeneration or cancer," says the study's lead investigator, Mercedes Prudencio, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at the Mayo Clinic campus in Florida.
The neuroscientists found that a lack of the protein TDP-43, long implicated in frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, leads to elevated levels of defective sortilin mRNA. The research team is the first to identify significantly elevated levels of the defective sortilin mRNA in autopsied human brain tissue of frontotemporal dementia/TDP cases, the most common subtype of the disease.
"We found a lack of TDP-43 disrupts the cellular process called mRNA splicing that precedes protein synthesis, resulting in the generation of a defective sortilin protein," Dr. Prudencio says. "More important, the defective sortilin binds to progranulin and as a result deprives neurons of progranulin's protective effects that stave off the cell death associated with disease."
By improving the scientific community's understanding of the biological processes leading to frontotemporal dementia, the researchers have also paved the way for the development of new therapies to prevent or combat the disease, says Leonard Petrucelli, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Mayo Clinic in Florida, who led the research.
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/news
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Bumblebees can recall which flowers yield nectar, but like people they can get mixed up – leading them to home in on flowers they have no experience of
Brain cells that help us predict the intentions of others before they've actively made a decision have been discovered in monkeys
Experiments in mice suggest that treatment of haemophilia could be more successful if the baby's immune system is primed while in the womb
Scientists have recovered cultivated wheat DNA from an 8,000-year-old submerged site off the British coast. The finding suggests hunter-gatherers were trading for the grain long before they grew it.
An exciting fossil find in China points to a 525-million year old sea-dweller who used its new backbone to swim nimbly away from predators
Birds are dinosaurs. That’s a fact underscored by dozens upon dozens of discoveries in the last 30 years.
Eyelashes keep dust out and fend off drying breezes, a study finds. To do that they need to be a very precise length. Extra-long fake eyelashes hurt more than they help.
New research from UCL brings us closer to finding out what’s behind one of our biggest killers
The UK has now become the first country to approve laws to allow the creation of babies from three people.
Three people with paralysed arms had their hands amputated and replaced by prosthetic ones that they control with their mind