Caspase-1 causes truncation and aggregation of the Parkinson’s disease-associated protein α-synuclein

Research Highlight

Cutting the fuse on Parkinson’s disease

© Science Photo Library - SCIEPRO/Brand X Pictures/Getty

© Science Photo Library - SCIEPRO/Brand X Pictures/Getty

As Parkinson’s disease progresses, increasing numbers of brain cells are lost as toxic protein clumps aggregate in patients’ nerves. But this progression could be stopped by tinkering with the immune system, a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA has revealed.

A team of US and Australian scientists, including researchers from Flinders University, have discovered how these clumps of the protein α-synuclein form.

They found that an enzyme called caspase-1, which is released during inflammation, breaks apart α-synuclein in way that leaves it more prone to sticking together. The researchers discovered that α-synuclein clumping could be reduced, and the nerve cell survival improved, by adding a caspase-1 blocking agent.

They scientists propose that changing the immune system’s activity by blocking caspase-1 in patients could be a promising strategy to prevent Parkinson’s disease.

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  1. PNAS 113,9587–9592 (2016). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1610099113
Institutions FC
Centre for Neuroscience (CNS), Australia 0.19
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, IUPUI, United States of America (USA) 0.11
Stark Neurosciences Research Institute (SNRI), IUPUI, United States of America (USA) 0.11
Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, United States of America (USA) 0.10
NIH NIA Laboratory of Neurogenetics, United States of America (USA) 0.10
NIH NCATS Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC), United States of America (USA) 0.10
UCSF Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, United States of America (USA) 0.07
Department of Chemistry, Brandeis University, United States of America (USA) 0.05
Department of Biochemistry, Brandeis University, United States of America (USA) 0.05
Schulze Diabetes Institute (SDI), UMN, United States of America (USA) 0.02
Department of Surgery, UMN, United States of America (USA) 0.02
UCSF Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, United States of America (USA) 0.02
Harvard Department of Neurology, United States of America (USA) 0.02
Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases (CND), BWH, United States of America (USA) 0.02
Department of Neurological Surgery, IUPUI, United States of America (USA) 0.02

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