"We have identified a central enzyme that is sensitive to very subtle changes in the folded state of a protein," explained Dr. David Thomas. "Proteins are the building blocks and machines of our bodies. In order for them to work correctly they have to fit together. Cells in our bodies have developed quality control mechanisms to assure proper folding. When something goes wrong, cells can accumulate misfolded proteins that don't work properly. The misfolding of proteins is the basis for a number of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Our findings are an important step toward the development of innovative prevention and treatment strategies for such diseases."
Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bergeron, together with graduate student Sean Taylor and post-doctoral fellow Andrew Ferguson, showed that the enzyme UDP-glucose:glycoprotein glucosyltransferase (UGGT) can sense specific regions of disorder and activity of proteins - key steps to recognizing misfolded proteins and removing them from the cells.
The paper and accompanying News and Views are currently available online.
This study was supported by research grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Dr. David Thomas (http://www.
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