ALS-linked protein's journey into nervous system cells more complex than we thought

February 28, 2018, University of Bath
ALS-linked protein's journey into nervous system cells more complex than we thought
Neuronal cell line showing angiogenin (green) in the nucleus and in the neurite outgrowths stained with an antibody to angiogenin. Credit: University of Bath

University of Bath scientists have developed a better understanding of a key protein associated with brain diseases including ALS (motor neurone disease) and dementia by studying how it enters central nervous system cells.

Researchers from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry studied how angiogenin, a protein which crosses into cells and is transported to the , works.

The protein has important roles in developing and protecting healthy brains and growing blood vessels, but mutated angiogenin is linked to the brain disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as or Lou Gehrig's disease, as well as a type of dementia called Fronto-temporal dementia (FTD).

Recently, angiogenin has also been shown to play an important role in the regeneration of

In a series of in vitro experiments the researchers tested how normal angiogenin was taken into several types of central , under a variety of different biochemical conditions to discover the route it was taking into the cells.

Their key finding is that angiogenin uptake into these cells seems to have more than one biochemical pathway, a finding which means the overall picture of how angiogenin functions is even more complicated than previously suspected.

Dr Vasanta Subramanian, from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry, who led the research, said: "Ultimately understanding the precise function of this protein is really important, and understanding how cells take it up is a critical part of that.

"We discovered that angiogenin is taken up into cells by more than one mechanism which is quite a surprise. It means that coming to a full understanding of how it really works is not going to be so easy, but the more we know about this protein the better because it's involved in several really crucial biological processes."

The research is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Explore further: Study gives clues to causes of Motor Neurone Disease and Parkinson's Disease

More information: Ross Ferguson et al, The cellular uptake of angiogenin, an angiogenic and neurotrophic factor is through multiple pathways and largely dynamin independent, PLOS ONE (2018). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0193302

Related Stories

Study gives clues to causes of Motor Neurone Disease and Parkinson's Disease

March 10, 2017
Scientists at the University of Bath have made further progress to understanding the role of one of the proteins that causes the neurodegenerative disorder Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson's Disease (PD).

Study gives clues to causes of motor neurone disease

October 10, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at the University of Bath are one step further to understanding the role of one of the proteins that causes the neurodegenerative disorder, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as ...

The toxic relationship between ALS and frontotemporal dementia

February 5, 2018
ALS and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are two neurodegenerative diseases with a toxic relationship, according to a new USC Stem Cell study published in Nature Medicine.

Faults in the blood-brain barrier implicated in dementia

February 6, 2018
California based researchers have found that damage to cells known as pericytes, which surround small blood vessels in the brain, may trigger a chain of events that results in brain degeneration. The findings are published ...

New areas of the brain identified where ALS-implicated gene is active

August 1, 2016
For the first time novel expression sites in the brain have been identified for a gene which is associated with motor neuron disease and frontotemporal dementia.

Recommended for you

Broken shuttle may interfere with learning in major brain disorders

June 22, 2018
Unable to carry signals based on sights and sounds to the genes that record memories, a broken shuttle protein may hinder learning in patients with intellectual disability, schizophrenia, and autism.

Scientists discover fundamental rule of brain plasticity

June 21, 2018
Our brains are famously flexible, or "plastic," because neurons can do new things by forging new or stronger connections with other neurons. But if some connections strengthen, neuroscientists have reasoned, neurons must ...

Waking up is hard to do: Prefrontal cortex implicated in consciousness

June 21, 2018
Philosophers have pondered the nature of consciousness for thousands of years. In the 21st century, the debate over how the brain gives rise to our everyday experience continues to puzzle scientists. To help, researchers ...

Researchers find mechanism behind choosing alcohol over healthy rewards

June 21, 2018
A new study links molecular changes in the brain to behaviours that are central in addiction, such as choosing a drug over alternative rewards. The researchers have developed a method in which rats learn to get an alcohol ...

Scientists discover how brain signals travel to drive language performance

June 21, 2018
Effective verbal communication depends on one's ability to retrieve and select the appropriate words to convey an intended meaning. For many, this process is instinctive, but for someone who has suffered a stroke or another ...

Study on instinctive behaviour elucidates a synaptic mechanism for computing escape decisions

June 21, 2018
How does your brain decide what to do in a threatening situation? A new paper published in Nature describes a mechanism by which the brain classifies the level of a threat and decides when to escape.

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.