Nerve cell discovery may lead to better treatment for diseases of the nervous system

A discovery that may improve treatment options for patients with neurodegenerative diseases has been made by scientists at King’s College London and the University of Bath in the UK.

This finding centres on a molecule that plays a profound role in nerve cell development, and which is known to contribute to disease when it malfunctions. Previously it was thought that this molecule was limited to the nucleus of the cell (the organelle containing a cell’s DNA and separated from the rest of the cell by a membrane) but this new study confirms an earlier findings by the same team that it can also be found in the cytoplasm (the watery interior of a cell). The study also demonstrates for the first that the cytoplasmic pool of this protein is functionally active.

This finding has important implications for research into neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and motor neurone disease.

The discovery, described in Current Biology was made by Professor Corinne Houart at King’s College London working with Dr Nikolas Nikolaou from the Department of Life Sciences at Bath.

Loss of nerve function

Scientists have known for some time that splicing proteins — the molecules studied in this research — can sometimes aggregate and form insoluble complexes in the cell’s cytoplasm, and that these complexes can interfere with the function of a neuron (nerve cell), eventually causing the neuron to lose function and degenerate. However, this study is the first to show that a major splicing protein can be found within protein/messenger RNA complexes (known as RNA granules), within the axons of nerve cells.

Source: Read Full Article