Cryo-EM structure of alpha-synuclein fibrils.

Journal: eLife

Published: 2018-07-03

DOI: 10.7554/elife.36402

Affiliations: 4

Authors: 8

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Research Highlight

Determining the structure of Parkinson’s disease



Protein fibrils thought to be one the culprits behind Parkinson’s disease have been imaged in detail for the first time.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder that mainly affects the part of the brain responsible for movement. The protein alpha-synuclein, when it accumulates in needle-like fibrils in the brain, is believed to be one of factors that trigger the disease. But until recently, no-one had succeeded in determining the atomic structure of an entire fibril.

Now, a team that included researchers at Roche Pharma Research and Early Development made an alpha-synuclein fibril in a test tube and then used cyro-electron microscopy to image its structure at an atomic resolution. They found that the proteins in the fibril form a helical structure.

This structural knowledge could help researchers to develop a way to diagnose the crippling disease earlier.

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  1. eLife 7, e36402 (2018). doi: 10.7554/eLife.36402
Institutions Share
Biozentrum, UB, Switzerland 0.50
F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Switzerland 0.38
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), Switzerland 0.13