Researchers identify how a gene linked to both Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes works

July 18, 2011

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified how a gene for a protein that can cause Type 2 diabetes, also possibly kills nerve cells in the brain, thereby contributing to Alzheimer's disease.

The gene, called SorCS1, controls the generation of amyloid-beta (Abeta) in the brain. Abeta plays a key role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers previously linked SorCS1 to Alzheimer's disease and identified where the molecules lived in the cell, but not how they control Abeta. The new data were presented today at the Alzheimer's Association's Annual International Conference in Paris.

Sam Gandy, MD, PhD, the Mount Sinai Professor in Alzheimer's Disease Research, Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry, and Associate Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, led the research team with Rachel Lane, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Gandy's lab.

The researchers determined various "traffic patterns" in the cell for the (APP) that makes Abeta and uncovered how much APP is converted into the toxic, and ultimately nerve-killing, Abeta. In some experiments Drs. Lane and Gandy altered the dose of the diabetes gene, SorCS1, and evaluated how that changed the "traffic pattern" that APP used to move around the cell and generate Abeta. In other experiments, Dr. Lane made small changes in the SorCS1 gene's and again saw dramatic changes in the "traffic pattern" of APP around the cell.

These data suggest that SorCS1 controls the movement of APP within the cell between areas where Abeta is readily made to areas where Abeta is not so easily made. In turn, the "traffic pattern" of influences the amount of Abeta being made by cells. The implication is that people with deficiencies in SorCS1 are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease because their APP spends too much time in the region of the cell where APP is broken down to make the toxic Abeta.

"The great thing about studying SorCS1," said Dr. Gandy, "is that we already have entirely new ideas about how to treat both and . Our hunch is that SorCS1 also controls how the insulin receptor moves around the cell, but we have not yet proven that," he said. "With both diseases reaching epidemic proportions, this discovery is encouraging news that brings us one step closer to developing treatments."

Explore further: Noncoding RNA may promote Alzheimer's disease

Related Stories

Noncoding RNA may promote Alzheimer's disease

May 30, 2011
Researchers pinpoint a small RNA that spurs cells to manufacture a particular splice variant of a key neuronal protein, potentially promoting Alzheimer's disease (AD) or other types of neurodegeneration. The study appears ...

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

July 18, 2017
Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.