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:

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.
Experimental Biology highlights -- Cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and medical news
Embargoed press materials are now available for the Experimental Biology (EB) 2019 meeting, to be held in Orlando April 6-9.
Circadian clock plays unexpected role in neurodegenerative diseases
Northwestern University researchers induced jet lag in a fruit fly model of Huntington disease and found that jet lag protected the flies' neurons.
Neurodegenerative diseases identified using artificial intelligence
Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence platform to detect a range of neurodegenerative disease in human brain tissue samples, including Alzheimer's disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Open-science model for drug discovery expands to neurodegenerative diseases
Parkinson's disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis are the newest frontiers for open science drug discovery, a global movement led by academic scientists in Toronto that puts knowledge sharing and medication affordability ahead of patents and profits.
New stage in the development of corrective mechanisms for ischemia and neurodegenerative diseases
In the last decade, there has been a growing body of experimental data confirming that neural networks are the minimal functional unit of the nervous system.
Scientists from TU Dresden search for new methods to cure neurodegenerative diseases
Behavioural experiments confirm: Additional neurons improve brain function.
Using graphene to detect ALS, other neurodegenerative diseases
Graphene can determine whether cerebrospinal fluid comes from a person with ALS, MS or from someone without a neurodegenerative disease.
More Neurodegenerative Diseases News and Neurodegenerative Diseases Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.