Nav: Home

Teaching human cells to clean house to delay ageing and fight neurodegeneration

January 24, 2019

Monash researchers have unlocked a key process in all human cells that contributes to diseases like cancer and neurodegenerative diseases as well as ageing. The discovery reveals how cells efficiently get rid of cellular junk, which when it accumulates, can trigger death and the health problems associated with getting older.

Autophagy is the 'clean-up crew' of the cell - used by cells to break-down debris like broken proteins, bits of cell membrane, viruses or bacteria. To capture this trash, cells use specialised membranes to trap the cargo for recycling into new parts and energy. Without efficient autophagy cells become choked by their own damaged components, which can contribute to the development of a range of diseases, including diabetes, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

Dr Michael Lazarou's laboratory from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute have today published data in Nature Communications that debunks previously held beliefs about how cells target their trash. Cells target different types of cargo by using 'autophagy receptors', which can bind the cargo as well as the ensnaring membranes. Until recently these autophagy receptors were thought to recruit the membranes to the cargo, but research led by Dr Benjamin Padman from the Lazarou lab now shows that this is not the case.

Dr Padman removed the ability of autophagy receptors to bind the membranes - and found that this did not halt the autophagy process. In collaboration with Dr Lan Nguyen, head of the Monash BDI Computational Network Modelling Laboratory, the researchers have instead discovered how cells amplify the rate of autophagy.

"It totally flipped the way I used to think about it," Dr Padman said.

"The autophagy receptors weren't recruiting the membranes, the membranes were recruiting more autophagy receptors to speed things up," he said.

According to Dr Padman, there are a number of treatments and therapies currently under development globally which aim to control the activity of these proteins, "which according to our findings, don't function the way we previously thought."

"The clean-up crew of autophagy is always hard at work in our cells, but it can sometimes have trouble keeping up. If we can find drugs that target this amplification mechanism, we could help neuronal cells deal with the build-up of protein trash linked to Huntington's and Alzheimer's," Dr Padman said.
-end-
Read the full paper in Nature Communications titled 'LC3/GABARAPs drive ubiquitin-independent recruitment of Optineurin and NDP52 to amplify mitophagy'.

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.

Monash University

Related Neurodegenerative Diseases Articles:

Inhibition of sphingolipid metabolism and neurodegenerative diseases
Disrupting the production of a class of lipids known as sphingolipids in neurons improved symptoms of neurodegeneration and increased survival in a mouse model.
How understanding the dynamics of yeast prions can shed light on neurodegenerative diseases
How understanding the dynamics of yeast prions can shed light on neurodegenerative diseases
New family of molecules to join altered receptors in neurodegenerative diseases
An article published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry shows a new family of molecules with high affinity to join imidazoline receptors, which are altered in the brain of those patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's.
Examining diagnoses of stress-related disorders, risk of neurodegenerative diseases
Researchers investigated how stress-related disorders (such as posttraumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder and stress reactions) were associated with risk for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer and Parkinson disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), using data from national health registers in Sweden.
Toxic protein, linked to Alzheimer's and neurodegenerative diseases, exposed in new detail
The protein tau has long been implicated in Alzheimer's and a host of other debilitating brain diseases.
Study uncovers unexpected connection between gliomas, neurodegenerative diseases
New basic science and clinical research identifies TAU, the same protein studied in the development of Alzheimer's, as a biomarker for glioma development.
Neurodegenerative diseases may be caused by transportation failures inside neurons
Protein clumps are routinely found in the brains of patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
Study suggests a protein could play key role in neurodegenerative diseases
Research led by Queen Mary University of London and the University of Seville around one protein's role in regulating brain inflammation could improve our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases.
Beyond finding a gene: Same repeated stretch of DNA in three neurodegenerative diseases
Four different rare diseases are all caused by the same short segment of DNA repeated too many times, a mutation researchers call noncoding expanded tandem repeats.
Protein complex may help prevent neurodegenerative diseases
The protein complex NAC in the cell helps to prevent the aggregration of proteins associated with several neurodegenerative diseases.
More Neurodegenerative Diseases News and Neurodegenerative Diseases Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.