IIT Mandi Researchers And US Researchers Investigate Protein's Role In Parkinson's Disease Progression

IIT Mandi Researchers And US Researchers Investigate Protein's Role In Parkinson's Disease Progression

The research was conducted by IIT Mandi researchers in collaboration with University of California in San Diego, Baylor College of Medicine and Emory University, Atlanta, USA. The study has also been published in an open access journal, “Neuron”.

PTIUpdated: Thursday, February 29, 2024, 07:20 PM IST
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IIT Mandi Researchers And US Researchers Investigate Protein's Role In Parkinson's Disease Progression | File

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi and three US universities have investigated a crucial protein involved in the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

According to officials, Parkinson’s disease is on the rise globally, with experts projecting a substantial 200-300 per cent increase in cases in India over the next two to three decades.

Researchers worldwide are actively engaged in unravelling the complexities of this disease, from its causes and progression to understanding patterns and outcomes, they said.

The research was conducted by IIT Mandi researchers in collaboration with University of California in San Diego, Baylor College of Medicine and Emory University, Atlanta, USA. The study has also been published in an open access journal, “Neuron”.

“The team has used a comprehensive array of techniques to understand the nature of one particular protein that has been associated with Parkinson’s disease,” Dube Dheeraj Prakashchand, Assistant Professor, School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, IIT Mandi.

“The protein, called Alpha-synuclein, is abundantly found in the brain. In patients with Parkinson’s disease and related conditions, this protein is highly phosphorylated (phosphate groups attached to one amino acid of this protein),” he said.

“Considering Phosphorylation akin to a master switch at the molecular level which involves a minute phosphate group latching onto proteins. This action is similar to flipping a switch, ingeniously activating or deactivating these proteins thereby finetuning its ambience for molecular interactions which lead to the progression of Parkinson’s,” he added.

Prakashchand explained that the study changes how we think about a protein change linked to Parkinson’s disease.

“It shows that this change, called phosphorylation at a certain site on the α-synuclein protein, is not just a disease marker but also crucial for normal brain work. The research suggests that stopping this process might harm brain function, leading to new ways to think about treating Parkinson’s that consider both healing the disease and keeping the brain healthy,” he said.

Through a combination of biochemical assays, protein analysis, and gene studies on mouse models, the international research team examined the protein and its phosphorylation patterns.

“The researchers also used advanced computer modelling to gain insights into the structural changes caused by the phosphorylated protein, helping to understand how this modification enables the protein to interact with other proteins,” he said.

Talking about the practical implications of the research, he said, drugs or gene therapies can be designed to ensure that the levels of SER129 are maintained correctly in specific areas of the brain.

“Secondly, molecules can be designed to either imitate or disrupt the connections between proteins that involve Ser129P to treat diseases like Parkinson’s. Lastly, using this understanding of phosphorylated Ser129, models to study diseases like Parkinson’s, can be improved. These models can be used to check if Parkinson’s medications affect Ser129P in any way,” the professor said. 

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