Proteolysis by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway (UPP) is now widely recognized as a molecular mechanism controlling myriad normal functions in the nervous system. Also, this pathway is intimately linked to many diseases and disorders of the brain. Among the diseases connected to the UPP are neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. Perturbation in the UPP is also believed to play a causative role in mental disorders such as Angelman syndrome. The pathology of neurodegenerative diseases is characterized by abnormal deposition of insoluble protein aggregates or inclusion bodies within neurons. The ubiquitinated protein aggregates are believed to result from dysfunction of the UPP or from structural changes in the protein substrates which prevent their recognition and degradation by the UPP. An early effect of abnormal UPP in diseases of the nervous system is likely to be impairment of synaptic function. Here we discuss the UPP and its physiological roles in the nervous system and how alterations in the UPP relate to development of nervous system diseases.
A growing body of research has connected autophagy to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer disease (AD). In autopsied AD brain, large multivesicular bodies accumulate in neurons. Knockout mice deficient for key autophagy genes demonstrate age-dependent neurodegeneration. Most neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by accumulation of insoluble protein species; the type of protein and the location of aggregates within the nervous system help to define the type of disorder. It has been hypothesized that the inability to degrade such aggregates is a major causative factor in neuronal dysfunction and eventual neuronal death. As neurons are postmitotic and thus cannot regenerate themselves, mechanisms of protein clearance have received much attention in the field. The function of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is impaired in models of neurodegeneration, and overexpression of chaperone proteins, such as those in the HSP70 family, leads to beneficial effects in many models of proteinopathies. Recently, studies of the effects of autophagy as a clearance mechanism have uncovered compelling evidence that inducing autophagy can alleviate many pathogenic and behavioral symptoms in animal and cellular models of neurodegeneration.
MAPT/tau; Alzheimer disease; Drosophila; microtubule; phosphorylation
Protein misfolding, aggregation and deposition are common disease mechanisms in many neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s disease. Accumulation of damaged or abnormally modified proteins may lead to perturbed cellular function and eventually to cell death. Thus neurons rely on elaborated pathways of protein quality control and removal to maintain intracellular protein homeostasis. Molecular chaperones, the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and the autophagy-lysosomal pathway (ALP) are critical pathways that mediate the refolding or removal of abnormal proteins.
The successive failure of these protein degradation pathways, as a cause or consequence of early pathological alterations in vulnerable neurons at risk, may present a key step in the pathological cascade that leads to spreading neurodegeneration. A growing number of studies in disease models and patients have implicated dysfunction of the UPS and ALP in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. Deciphering the exact mechanism by which the different proteolytic systems contribute to the elimination of pathogenic proteins, like α-synuclein, is therefore of paramount importance. We herein review the role of protein degradation pathways in Parkinson’s disease and elaborate on the different contributions of the UPS and the ALP to the clearance of altered proteins. We examine the interplay between different degradation pathways and provide a model for the role of the UPS and ALP in the evolution and progression of α-synuclein pathology. With regards to exciting recent studies we also discuss the putative potential of using protein degradation pathways as novel therapeutic targets in Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease; neurodegeneration; α-synuclein; autophagy; lysosome; ubiquitin-proteasome system; molecular chaperones
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and prion-based neurodegeneration are associated with the accumulation of misfolded proteins, resulting in neuronal dysfunction and cell death. However, current treatments for these diseases predominantly address disease symptoms, rather than the underlying protein misfolding and cell death, and are not able to halt or reverse the degenerative process. Studies in cell culture, fruitfly, worm and mouse models of protein misfolding-based neurodegenerative diseases indicate that enhancing the protein-folding capacity of cells, via elevated expression of chaperone proteins, has therapeutic potential. Here, we review advances in strategies to harness the power of the natural cellular protein-folding machinery through pharmacological activation of heat shock transcription factor 1 — the master activator of chaperone protein gene expression — to treat neurodegenerative diseases.
The cellular mechanisms underlying neuronal loss and neurodegeneration have been an area of interest in the last decade. Although neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Huntington’s disease (HD) each have distinct clinical symptoms and pathologies, they all share common mechanisms such as protein aggregation, oxidative injury, inflammation, apoptosis and mitochondrial injury that contribute to neuronal loss. Although cerebrovascular disease is due to etiologies quite different from the neurodegenerative disorders, many of the same common disease mechanisms come into play following a stroke. Novel therapies that target each of these mechanisms may be effective in decreasing the risk of disease, abating symptoms or slowing down their progression. While most of these therapies are experimental, and require further investigation, a few seem to offer promise in the near future.
Parkinson’s disease; Alzheimer’s disease; ischemic stroke; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Huntington’s disease
The ubiquitin/proteasome pathway is the major proteolytic quality control system in cells. In this review we discuss the impact of a deregulation of this pathway on neuronal function and its causal relationship to the intracellular deposition of ubiquitin protein conjugates in pathological inclusion bodies in all the major chronic neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases as well as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We describe the intricate nature of the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway and discuss the paradox of protein aggregation, i.e. its potential toxic/protective effect in neurodegeneration. The relations between some of the dysfunctional components of the pathway and neurodegeneration are presented. We highlight possible ubiquitin/proteasome pathway-targeting therapeutic approaches, such as activating the proteasome, enhancing ubiquitination and promoting SUMOylation that might be important to slow/treat the progression of neurodegeneration. Finally, a model time line is presented for neurodegeneration starting at the initial injurious events up to protein aggregation and cell death, with potential time points for therapeutic intervention.
Ubiquitin/proteasome pathway; Neurodegeneration; Therapy; Protein aggregation
Protein misfolding and aggregation are associated with many neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington’s disease. The cellular machinery for maintaining proteostasis includes molecular chaperones that facilitate protein folding and reduce proteotoxicity. Increasing the protein folding capacity of cells through manipulation of DNAJ chaperones has been shown to suppress aggregation and ameliorate polyglutamine toxicity in cells and flies. However, to date these promising findings have not been translated to mammalian models of disease. To address this issue, we developed transgenic mice that over-express the neuronal chaperone HSJ1a (DNAJB2a) and crossed them with the R6/2 mouse model of Huntington’s disease. Over-expression of HSJ1a significantly reduced mutant huntingtin aggregation and enhanced solubility. Surprisingly, this was mediated through specific association with K63 ubiquitylated, detergent insoluble, higher order mutant huntingtin assemblies that decreased their ability to nucleate further aggregation. This was dependent on HSJ1a client binding ability, ubiquitin interaction and functional co-operation with HSP70. Importantly, these changes in mutant huntingtin solubility and aggregation led to improved neurological performance in R6/2 mice. These data reveal that prevention of further aggregation of detergent insoluble mutant huntingtin is an additional level of quality control for late stage chaperone-mediated neuroprotection. Furthermore, our findings represent an important proof of principle that DNAJ manipulation is a valid therapeutic approach for intervention in Huntington’s disease.
chaperones; Huntington’s disease; polyglutamine; aggregation; protein folding
Dysfunctional insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) signaling contributes to the pathological progression of diabetes, diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), Alzheimer's (AD), Parkinson's (PD) and Huntington's diseases (HD). Despite their prevalence, there are limited therapeutic options available for the treatment of these neurodegenerative disorders. Therefore, establishing a link between insulin/IGF-I and the pathoetiology of these diseases may provide alternative approaches toward their management. Many of the heat shock proteins (Hsps) are well-known molecular chaperones that solubilize and clear damaged proteins and protein aggregates. Recent studies suggest that modulating Hsps may represent a promising therapeutic avenue for improving insulin and IGF-I signaling. Pharmacological induction of the heat shock response (HSR) may intersect with insulin/IGF-I signaling to improve aspects of neurodegenerative phenotypes. Herein, we review the intersection between Hsps and the insulin/IGF systems under normal and pathological conditions. The discussion will emphasize the potential of non-toxic HSR inducers as viable therapeutic agents.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative movement disorder that is caused, in part, by the loss of dopaminergic neurons within the substantia nigra pars compacta of the basal ganglia. The presence of intracellular protein aggregates, known as Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, within the surviving nigral neurons is the defining neuropathological feature of the disease. Accordingly, the identification of specific genes mutated in families with Parkinson’s disease and of genetic susceptibility variants for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease has implicated abnormalities in proteostasis, or the handling and elimination of misfolded proteins, in the pathogenesis of this neurodegenerative disorder. Protein folding and the refolding of misfolded proteins are regulated by a network of interactive molecules, known as the chaperone system, which is composed of molecular chaperones and co-chaperones. The chaperone system is intimately associated with the ubiquitin-proteasome system and the autophagy-lysosomal pathway which are responsible for elimination of misfolded proteins and protein quality control. In addition to their role in proteostasis, some chaperone molecules are involved in the regulation of cell death pathways. Here we review the role of the molecular chaperones Hsp70 and Hsp90, and the co-chaperones Hsp40, BAG family members such as BAG5, CHIP and Hip in modulating neuronal death with a focus on dopaminergic neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. We also review current progress in preclinical studies aimed at targetting the chaperone system to prevent neurodegeneration. Finally, we discuss potential future chaperone-based therapeutics for the symptomatic treatment and possible disease modification of Parkinson’s disease.
Bcl-2 associated athanogene (BAG) family; C-terminal Hsp70 interacting protein (CHIP); chaperones; co-chaperones; heat shock protein (Hsp); Hsp90 inhibitors; neurodegeneration; Parkinson’s disease
Adult-onset neurodegeneration and other protein conformational diseases are associated with the appearance, persistence, and accumulation of misfolded and aggregation prone proteins. To protect the proteome from long-term damage, the cell expresses a highly integrated protein homeostasis (proteostasis) machinery to ensure that proteins are properly expressed, folded, and cleared, and to recognize damaged proteins. Molecular chaperones have a central role in proteostasis as they have been shown to be essential to prevent the accumulation of alternate folded proteotoxic states as occurs in protein conformation diseases exemplified by neurodegeneration. Studies using invertebrate models expressing proteins associated with Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease, ALS, and Parkinson's disease have provided insights into the genetic networks and stress signaling pathways that regulate the proteostasis machinery to prevent cellular dysfunction, tissue pathology, and organismal failure. These events appear to be further amplified by aging and provide evidence that age-related failures in proteostasis may be a common element in many diseases.
Protein aggregation is a hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases. RNA chaperones have been suggested to play a role in protein misfolding and aggregation. Noncoding, highly structured RNA recently has been demonstrated to facilitate transformation of recombinant and cellular prion protein into proteinase K-resistant, congophilic, insoluble aggregates and to generate cytotoxic oligomers in vitro. Transgenic Drosophila melanogaster strains were developed to express highly structured RNA under control of a heat shock promoter. Expression of a specific construct strongly perturbed fly behavior, caused significant decline in learning and memory retention of adult males, and was coincident with the formation of intracellular congophilic aggregates in the brain and other tissues of adult and larval stages. Additionally, neuronal cell pathology of adult flies was similar to that observed in human Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. This novel model demonstrates that expression of a specific highly structured RNA alone is sufficient to trigger neurodegeneration, possibly through chaperone-like facilitation of protein misfolding and aggregation.
Many diverse human diseases are associated with protein aggregation in ordered fibrillar structures called amyloid. Amyloid formation may mediate aberrant protein interactions that culminate in neurodegeneration in Alzheimer, Huntington, and Parkinson diseases and in prion encephalopathies. Studies of protein aggregation in the brain are hampered by limitations in imaging techniques and often require invasive methods that can only be performed postmortem. Here we describe transgenic mice in which aggregation-prone proteins that cause Huntington and Parkinson disease are expressed in the ocular lens. Expression of a mutant huntingtin fragment or α-synuclein in the lens leads to protein aggregation and cataract formation, which can be monitored in real time by noninvasive, highly sensitive optical techniques. Expression of a mutant huntingtin fragment in mice lacking the major lens chaperone, αB-crystallin, markedly accelerated the onset and severity of aggregation, demonstrating that the endogenous chaperone activity of αB-crystallin suppresses aggregation in vivo. These novel mouse models will facilitate the characterization of protein aggregation in vivo and are being used in efficient and economical screens for chemical and genetic modifiers of disease-relevant protein aggregation.
Several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's and prion diseases, are characterized pathognomonically by the presence of intra- and/or extracellular lesions containing proteinaceous aggregates, and by extensive neuronal loss in selective brain regions. Related non-neuropathic systemic diseases, e.g., light-chain and senile systemic amyloidoses, and other organ-specific diseases, such as dialysis-related amyloidosis and type-2 diabetes mellitus, also are characterized by deposition of aberrantly folded, insoluble proteins. It is debated whether the hallmark pathologic lesions are causative. Substantial evidence suggests that these aggregates are the end state of aberrant protein folding whereas the actual culprits likely are transient, pre-fibrillar assemblies preceding the aggregates. In the context of neurodegenerative amyloidoses, the proteinaceous aggregates may eventuate as potentially neuroprotective sinks for the neurotoxic, oligomeric protein assemblies. The pre-fibrillar, oligomeric assemblies are believed to initiate the pathogenic mechanisms that lead to synaptic dysfunction, neuronal loss, and disease-specific regional brain atrophy.
The amyloid β-protein (Aβ), which is believed to cause Alzheimer's disease (AD), is considered an archetypal amyloidogenic protein. Intense studies have led to nominal, functional, and structural descriptions of oligomeric Aβ assemblies. However, the dynamic and metastable nature of Aβ oligomers renders their study difficult. Different results generated using different methodologies under different experimental settings further complicate this complex area of research and identification of the exact pathogenic assemblies in vivo seems daunting.
Here we review structural, functional, and biological experiments used to produce and study pre-fibrillar Aβ assemblies, and highlight similar studies of proteins involved in related diseases. We discuss challenges that contemporary researchers are facing and future research prospects in this demanding yet highly important field.
Amyloid; neurodegeneration; Alzheimer's disease; amyloid β-protein; protein misfolding; pre-fibrillar assemblies; oligomers; toxicity
A hallmark of Huntington’s disease is the presence of a large polyglutamine expansion in the first exon of the Huntingtin protein and the propensity of protein aggregation by the mutant proteins. Aberrant protein aggregation also occurs in other polyglutamine expansion disorders, as well as in other neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and prion diseases. However, the pathophysiological role of these aggregates in the cell death that characterizes the diseases remains unclear. Identification of small molecule probes that modulate protein aggregation and cytotoxicity caused by aggregated proteins may greatly facilitate the studies on pathogenesis of these diseases and potentially lead to development of new therapies. Based on a detergent insoluble property of the Huntingtin protein aggregates, we have developed a homogenous assay to rapidly quantitate the levels of protein aggregates in a cellular model of Huntington’s disease. The protein aggregation assay has also been multiplexed with a protease release assay for the measurement of cytotoxicity resulting from aggregated proteins in the same cells. Through a testing screen of a compound library, we have demonstrated that this multiplexed cytotoxicity and protein aggregation assay has ability to identify active compounds that prevent cell death and/or modulate protein aggregation in cells of the Huntington’s disease model. Therefore, this multiplexed screening approach is also useful for development of high-throughput screening assays for other neurodegenerative diseases involving protein aggregation.
Huntington’s disease; protein aggregation; high-throughput screen; polyglutamine expansion; multiplex assay.
Molecular chaperones facilitate and regulate protein conformational
change within cells. This encompasses many fundamental cellular processes:
including the correct folding of nascent chains; protein transport and
translocation; signal transduction and protein quality control. Chaperones are,
therefore, important in several forms of human disease, including
neurodegeneration. Within the retina, the highly specialized photoreceptor cell
presents a fascinating paradigm to investigate the specialization of molecular
chaperone function and reveals unique chaperone requirements essential to
photoreceptor function. Mutations in several photoreceptor proteins lead to
protein misfolding mediated neurodegeneration. The best characterized of these
are mutations in the molecular light sensor, rhodopsin, which cause autosomal
dominant retinitis pigmentosa. Rhodopsin biogenesis is likely to require
chaperones, while rhodopsin misfolding involves molecular chaperones in quality
control and the cellular response to protein aggregation. Furthermore, the
specialization of components of the chaperone machinery to photoreceptor
specific roles has been revealed by the identification of mutations in molecular
chaperones that cause inherited retinal dysfunction and degeneration. These
chaperones are involved in several important cellular pathways and further
illuminate the essential and diverse roles of molecular
Retina; Neurodegeneration; Retinal dystrophy; Molecular chaperone; Rhodopsin; RP2; AIPL1; Heat shock protein; Hsp
The self-association of misfolded or damaged proteins into ordered amyloid-like aggregates characterizes numerous neurodegenerative disorders. Insoluble amyloid plaques are diagnostic of many disease states. Yet soluble, oligomeric intermediates in the aggregation pathway appear to represent the toxic culprit. Molecular chaperones regulate the fate of misfolded proteins and thereby influence their aggregation state. Chaperones conventionally antagonize aggregation of misfolded, disease proteins and assist in refolding or degradation pathways. Recent work suggests that chaperones may also suppress neurotoxicity by converting toxic, soluble oligomers into benign aggregates. Chaperones can therefore suppress or promote aggregation of disease proteins to ameliorate the proteotoxic accumulation of soluble, assembly intermediates.
chaperone; heat shock protein; protein aggregation; amyloid; Hsp70; Hsp40; prion
The glucose regulated protein 78 (GRP78), also known as BiP, is the endoplasmatic reticulum (ER) homologue of HSP70, which plays a dual role in the ER by controlling protein folding, in order to prevent aggregation, and by regulating the signaling of the unfolded protein response (UPR). Most neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s diseases and progressive retinal degeneration are characterized by activation of the UPR and modified expression of GRP78. The expression levels and activity of GRP78 are altered with age raising the question of whether the lack of GRP78 could be a predisposing factor for many neurodegenerative disorders associated with age including PD, Alzheimer and Age-related macular degeneration. Attempts to induce or upregulate GRP78 in animal models of neurodegeneration have recently been made with the help of pharmacological BiP protein Inducer X (BIX) and GRP78 cDNA delivery via adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors. The results of these studies validate GRP78 as a new therapeutic target for treatments of forebrain ischemia, Parkinson disease and retinal degeneration. These data, together with the results from age-related studies, highlight the importance for developing drugs to induce elevation of endogenous GRP78 in order to increase cellular survival and extend functional longevity.
Molecular chaperone GRP78/BiP; Neurodegenerative disorders
Protein misfolding and aggregation cause a large number of neurodegenerative diseases in humans due to (i) gain of function as observed in Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Prion’s disease or (ii) loss of function as observed in cystic fibrosis and α1-antitrypsin deficiency. These misfolded proteins could either lead to the formation of harmful amyloids that become toxic for the cells or to be recognized and prematurely degraded by the protein quality control system. An increasing number of studies has indicated that some low-molecular-weight compounds named as chemical chaperones can reverse the mislocalization and/or aggregation of proteins associated with human conformational diseases. These small molecules are thought to non-selectively stabilize proteins and facilitate their folding. In this review, we summarize the probable mechanisms of protein conformational diseases in humans and the use of chemical chaperones and inhibitors as potential therapeutic agents against these diseases. Furthermore, recent advanced experimental and theoretical approaches underlying the detailed mechanisms of protein conformational changes and current structure-based drug designs towards protein conformational diseases are also discussed. It is believed that a better understanding of the mechanisms of conformational changes as well as the biological functions of these proteins will lead to the development and design of potential interfering compounds against amyloid formation associated with protein conformational diseases.
misfolding; Alzheimer’s disease; Prion’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; Huntington’s disease; amyloid; chemical chaperone; molecular dynamics simulation; structure-based drug design; protein conformational disease
The polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases such as Huntington’s disease (HD), are neurodegenerative diseases caused by proteins with an expanded polyQ stretch, which misfold and aggregate, and eventually accumulate as inclusion bodies within neurons. Molecules that inhibit polyQ protein misfolding/aggregation, such as Polyglutamine Binding Peptide 1 (QBP1) and molecular chaperones, have been shown to exert therapeutic effects in vivo by crossing of transgenic animals. Towards developing a therapy using these aggregation inhibitors, we here investigated the effect of viral vector-mediated gene therapy using QBP1 and molecular chaperones on polyQ disease model mice. We found that injection of adeno-associated virus type 5 (AAV5) expressing QBP1 or Hsp40 into the striatum both dramatically suppresses inclusion body formation in the HD mouse R6/2. AAV5-Hsp40 injection also ameliorated the motor impairment and extended the lifespan of R6/2 mice. Unexpectedly, we found even in virus non-infected cells that AAV5-Hsp40 appreciably suppresses inclusion body formation, suggesting a non-cell autonomous therapeutic effect. We further show that Hsp40 inhibits secretion of the polyQ protein from cultured cells, implying that it inhibits the recently suggested cell-cell transmission of the polyQ protein. Our results demonstrate for the first time the therapeutic effect of Hsp40 gene therapy on the neurological phenotypes of polyQ disease mice.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disease characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra and the aggregation of α-synuclein into Lewy bodies. Existing therapies address motor dysfunction but do not halt progression of the disease. A still unresolved question is the biochemical pathway that modulates the outcome of protein misfolding and aggregation processes in PD. The molecular chaperone network plays an important defensive role against cellular protein misfolding and has been identified as protective in experimental models of protein misfolding diseases like PD. Molecular mechanisms underlying chaperone-neuroprotection are actively under investigation. Current evidence implicates a number of molecular chaperones in PD including Hsp25, Hsp70 and Hsp90, however their precise involvement in the neurodegenerative cascade is unresolved. The J protein family (DnaJ or Hsp40 protein family) has long been known to be important in protein conformational processes.
We assessed sensory and motor function of control and PD rats and then evaluated the brain region-specific expression levels of select J proteins by Western analysis. Surprisingly, we observed a widespread 26 kDa breakdown product of the J protein, TID1, (tumorous imaginal discs, mtHsp40 or DnaJ3) in a 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) rat model of PD in which food handling, gait symmetry and sensory performance were impaired. Greater behavioral deficits were associated with lower TID1 expression. Furthermore, direct application of either 6-OHDA or MPP+ (1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinum) to CAD (CNS-derived catecholinaminergic neuronal cell line) cell cultures, reduced TID1 expression levels.
Our results suggest that changes in cellular TID1 are a factor in the pathogenesis of PD by impeding functional and structural compensation and exaggerating neurodegenerative processes. In contrast, no changes were observed in CSPα, Hsp40, Hsp70, Hsc70 and PrPC levels and no activation of caspase3 was observed. This study links TID1 to PD and provides a new target for therapeutics that halts the PD progression.
Misfolding and oligomerization of unstructured proteins is involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s (PD), Alzheimer’s (AD), Huntington’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders. Elucidation of possible conformations of these proteins and their interactions with the membrane is necessary to understand the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration.
We developed a strategy that makes it possible to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of of alpha-synuclein aggregation- a key molecular event in the pathogenesis of PD. This strategy can be also useful for the study of other unstructured proteins involved in neurodegeneration. The results of these theoretical studies have been confirmed with biochemical and electrophysiological studies.
Our studies provide insights into the molecular mechanism for PD initiation and progression, and provide a useful paradigm for identifying possible therapeutic interventions through computational modeling.
Unstructured proteins; Parkinson’s disease; alpha-synuclein; molecular dynamics
Protein aggregation is seen as a general hallmark of chronic, degenerative brain conditions like, for example, in the neurodegenerative diseases Alzheimer's disease (Aβ, tau), Parkinson's Disease (α-synuclein), Huntington's disease (polyglutamine, huntingtin), and others. Protein aggregation is thought to occur due to disturbed proteostasis, i.e. the imbalance between the arising and degradation of misfolded proteins. Of note, the same proteins are found aggregated in sporadic forms of these diseases that are mutant in rare variants of familial forms.
Schizophrenia is a chronic progressive brain condition that in many cases goes along with a permanent and irreversible cognitive deficit. In a candidate gene approach, we investigated whether Disrupted-in-schizophrenia 1 (DISC1), a gene cloned in a Scottish family with linkage to chronic mental disease1, 2, could be found as insoluble aggregates in the brain of sporadic cases of schizophrenia3. Using the SMRI CC, we identified in approximately 20 % of cases with CMD but not normal controls or patients with neurodegenerative diseases sarkosyl-insoluble DISC1 immunoreactivity after biochemical fractionation. Subsequent studies in vitro revealed that the aggregation propensity of DISC1 was influenced by disease-associated polymorphism S704C4, and that DISC1 aggresomes generated in vitro were cell-invasive5, similar to what had been shown for Aβ6, tau7-9, α-synuclein10, polyglutamine11, or SOD1 aggregates12. These findings prompted us to propose that at least a subset of cases with CMD, those with aggregated DISC1 might be protein conformational disorders.
Here we describe how we generate DISC1 aggresomes in mammalian cells, purify them on a sucrose gradient and use them for cell-invasiveness studies. Similarly, we describe how we generate an exclusively multimeric C-terminal DISC1 fragment, label and purify it for cell invasiveness studies. Using the recombinant multimers of DISC1 we achieve similar cell invasiveness as for a similarly labeled synthetic α-synuclein fragment. We also show that this fragment is taken up in vivo when stereotactically injected into the brain of recipient animals.
Molecular Biology; Issue 66; Neuroscience; Medicine; Genetics; Protein aggregate; aggresome; cell invasiveness; protein conformational disease; DISC1; DISC1opathy; purification; recombinant protein; multimerization; protein labeling; brain; rat; neuroscience
Many neurodegenerative diseases demonstrate abnormal mitochondrial morphology and biochemical dysfunction. Alterations are often systemic rather than brain-limited. Mitochondrial dysfunction may arise as a consequence of abnormal mitochondrial DNA, mutated nuclear proteins that interact directly or indirectly with mitochondria, or through unknown causes. In most cases it is unclear where mitochondria sit in relation to the overall disease cascades that ultimately causes neuronal dysfunction and death, and there is still controversy regarding the question of whether mitochondrial dysfunction is a necessary step in neurodegeneration. In this chapter we highlight and catalogue mitochondrial perturbations in some of the major neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington’s disease (HD). We consider data that suggest mitochondria may be critically involved in neurodegenerative disease neurodegeneration cascades.
cybrid; mitochondria; mitochondrial DNA; neurodegenerative disease
A growing body of epidemiologic and experimental data point to chronic bacterial and viral infections as possible risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Infections of the central nervous system, especially those characterized by a chronic progressive course, may produce multiple damage in infected and neighbouring cells. The activation of inflammatory processes and host immune responses cause chronic damage resulting in alterations of neuronal function and viability, but different pathogens can also directly trigger neurotoxic pathways. Indeed, viral and microbial agents have been reported to produce molecular hallmarks of neurodegeneration, such as the production and deposit of misfolded protein aggregates, oxidative stress, deficient autophagic processes, synaptopathies and neuronal death. These effects may act in synergy with other recognized risk factors, such as aging, concomitant metabolic diseases and the host’s specific genetic signature. This review will focus on the contribution given to neurodegeneration by herpes simplex type-1, human immunodeficiency and influenza viruses, and by Chlamydia pneumoniae.
HSV-1; HIV; Influenza virus; C. pneumoniae; Alzheimer’s disease; Neurodegeneration
Accumulation of amyloid-like aggregates is a hallmark of numerous neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and polyglutamine disease. Yet, whether the amyloid inclusions found in these diseases are toxic or cytoprotective remains unclear. Various studies suggest that the toxic culprit in the amyloid folding pathway is actually a soluble oligomeric species which might interfere with normal cellular function by a multifactorial mechanism including aberrant protein-protein interactions. Molecular chaperones suppress toxicity of amyloidogenic proteins by inhibiting aggregation of non-native disease substrates and targeting them for refolding or degradation. Paradoxically, recent studies also suggest a protective action of chaperones in their promotion of the assembly of large, tightly packed, benign aggregates that sequester toxic protein species.
amyloid; polyglutamine; huntingtin; neurodegenerative disease; molecular chaperone