Proteins ‘Tagged’ to Clump in ALS Protect Neurons from Toxicity, Research Finds

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute discovered that cells instruct proteins to form aggregates to protect them from toxicity associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS.

The research team, led by Claudio Joazeiro, associate professor of cell and molecular biology at Scripps, identified an enzyme that can “tag” abnormal proteins to be sent for clump formation. The study, published in the journal eLife, shows that protein aggregation can have a beneficial role. Protein aggregates are associated with other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, where they are mainly believed to contribute to pathology.

“We have uncovered a new molecular mechanism underlying neurodegeneration. This could lead to new diagnostics or new therapeutic approaches, especially for ALS,” Dr. Joazeiro said.

Researchers have long been studying cells’ ability to identify and destroy deviant proteins. In ALS, mutated proteins accumulate, which eventually lead to nerve cell death and symptoms such as muscle weakness and paralysis.

excerpt © 2016 ALS News Today