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Blockage of Cellular Pathway Associated with Parkinson's

Proteins that unblock pathway reverse neuronal loss

THURSDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have demonstrated that blocking a cellular pathway can cause neuronal death, and they have identified proteins that could reverse the neuronal loss in three different animal models of Parkinson disease, according to a report published online June 22 in Science.

Susan Lindquist, Ph.D., of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues investigated the function of misfolded alpha-synuclein (αSyn) protein associated with the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease.

In yeast, accumulated αSyn protein blocked cellular transport between the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi apparatus. A genetic screen in yeast identified proteins that could unblock this transport. Expression of one of these proteins -- Rab1 -- in Drosophila, Caenorhabditis elegans and cultured rat midbrain neurons reversed the αSyn-induced death of dopamine-producing neurons, according to the study.

"The ability of Rab1 to protect against αSyn-induced neuron loss in three independent animal models is strong evidence for a link between αSyn and endoplasmic reticulum-Golgi trafficking," Lindquist and colleagues conclude.

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