Proteins behaving badly: Researchers develop an algorithm to predict how and when proteins misfold
Several neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) are caused when the body's own proteins fold incorrectly, recruit and convert healthy proteins to the misfolded form, and aggregate in large clumps that gum up the works of the nervous system. "For Star Trek fans, this is like the Borg, [a fictional race of cyborgs that abduct and assimilate humans and other species]," says Steven Plotkin, a biophysicist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver who studies the process of protein misfolding.
Plotkin's team has developed an algorithm that can predict which regions of a protein are prone to exposure upon misfolding, and how mutations in the protein and changes in the cellular environment might affect the stability of these vulnerable regions. These predictions help scientists gain a better understanding of protein dynamics, and may one day help in developing treatments to effectively combat currently incurable neurodegenerative diseases. The team will present its findings at the 56th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society (BPS), held Feb. 25-29 in San Diego, Calif.
The algorithm developed by Plotkin's group uses the energy equations of thermodynamics to calculate the likelihood that certain stretches of protein will be displayed when the protein misfolds. Since the exposed regions are specific to the misfolded version of the protein, researchers can use these regions as targets for diagnostic and therapeutic treatments. The algorithm can be adapted for different proteins and predicts several potential target regions for each protein. The group has used it to study neurodegenerative disease-causing proteins as well as misfolded proteins that have been implicated in some cancers.
More recently, the research group used computer simulations to manipulate proteins in a virtual environment, testing out how easy it is for mutated proteins to misfold and propagate. Using this tool has helped the team predict the progression of hereditary ALS disease.
"The fact that we can predict the lifetime of an individual diagnosed with hereditary ALS from simulations of a protein's mechanical properties is something that is both satisfying and that gives one pause," says Plotkin. "We hope that such information might give some clues as to how to develop effective therapies for this disease."
More information: The presentation, "Template-directed protein misfolding in silico and in the cell," is at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012, in the San Diego Convention Center, Hall FGH. ABSTRACT: http://tinyurl.com/6pg3vbw
Provided by American Institute of Physics
- Scientists develop algorithm to understand certain human diseases Jun 16, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Similarities cause protein misfolding May 31, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- How disordered proteins spread from cell to cell, potentially spreading disease Feb 18, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- New study of gene evolution could lead to better understanding of neurodegenerative disease Jul 24, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Key to pre-eclampsia may be found in misfolded proteins in the urine Jan 30, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
8 hours ago From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
In 2008 researchers from the University of Southern Denmark showed that the drug thioridazine, which has previously been used to treat schizophrenia, is also a powerful weapon against antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as ...
Medical research 19 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Scientists investigating the interaction of a group of proteins in the brain responsible for protecting nerve cells from damage have identified a new target that could increase cell survival.
Medical research May 17, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
New findings by researchers carrying out experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science's Advanced Photon Source (APS) help explain why some drugs that interact with two kinds of human serotonin ...
Medical research May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Peptide molecules derived from the body's natural immune system can help boost the body's defence against life-threatening blood poisoning, joint University research has uncovered.
Medical research May 17, 2013 | 4 / 5 (1) | 0 |
A new Montréal study conducted by Dr. May Faraj, associate research professor at the Université de Montréal and invited scientist at the IRCM, along with her research team and medical collaborators, shows ...
Medical research May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
An increasing number of U.S. children are experiencing gastrointestinal issues that require interventions to resolve, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A ground-breaking advance in colonoscopy technology signals the future of colorectal care, according to research presented today at Digestive Disease Week(DDW). Additional research focuses on optimizing the minimal withdrawal ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
Big names in medicine are set to give an upbeat assessment of the war on AIDS on Tuesday, 30 years after French researchers identified the virus that causes the disease.
9 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
For combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 'fear circuitry' in the brain never rests
Chronic trauma can inflict lasting damage to brain regions associated with fear and anxiety. Previous imaging studies of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, have shown that these brain regions can over-or ...
10 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—What if the quality of your work depends more on your focus on the piano keys or canvas or laptop than your musical or painting or computing skills? If target users can be convinced, they ...
22 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
The neural machinery underlying our olfactory sense continues to be an enigma for neuroscience. A recent review in Neuron seeks to expand traditional ideas about how neurons in the olfactory bulb might encode information about ...
21 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |