The study, published in Nature Communications, adds to our growing understanding of the causes of Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases, and could influence drug design in the future.
For years, scientists have known that Parkinson's disease is associated with a build-up of alpha-synuclein protein inside brain cells. But how these protein clumps cause neurons to die was a mystery.
Combination - Approaches - Forms - Alpha-synuclein - Team
Using a combination of detailed cellular and molecular approaches to compare healthy and clumped forms of alpha-synuclein, a team of scientists at the Francis Crick Institute, UCL, UK Dementia Research Institute at the universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh, New York University and other collaborators have discovered how the protein clumps are toxic to neurons.
They found that clumps of alpha-synuclein moved to and damaged key proteins on the surface of mitochondria -- the energy powerhouses of cells -- making them less efficient at producing energy. It also triggered a channel on the surface of mitochondria to open, causing them to swell and burst, leaking out chemicals...
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