This article has been reviewed according to Science X's editorial process and policies. Editors have highlighted the following attributes while ensuring the content's credibility:


peer-reviewed publication

trusted source


Researchers halt progression of Parkinson's disease in mouse model

Researchers halt progression of Parkinson's disease in mouse model
Generation and characterization of Usp30 KO mice. a Schematic of gene targeting to generate the Usp30 KO mice. b Bar graph shows the levels of Usp30 gene expression in different tissues in Usp30 WT and KO mice (n = 5 for brain, n = 4 for testis, n = 3 for all other tissues). Error bars represent mean ± s.d. c Representative Western Blot images of OPA1, beta-actin and USP30 in the cortex of Usp30 WT and KO male mice. The experiment was repeated twice independently. d Estimated and observed numbers of WT, Usp30 heterozygous (Het) and Usp30 homozygous knockout (KO) mice in the offspring of heterozygous Usp30 breeders. e Survival curve of WT and Usp30 KO mice. f schematic image showing the working mechanism of mito-QC reporter protein for assessing the mitophagy signal in cells. g Representative fluorescence images show the mito-QC fluorescence signal (mCherry-red, GFP-green), and dopaminergic neurons (TH, blue) in the SNpc of mito-QC and mito-QC/Usp30 KO male mice. Dashed white inlets were enlarged in right panels showing the details of mCherry only puncta (mitophagy puncta) in the DA neurons. Scale bar, 10 µm. h Quantification of mitophagy puncta in individual dopaminergic neurons of the SNpc (n = 13 for USP WT male mice, n = 14 for Usp30 KO male mice, 5–10 neurons per mouse). WT and Usp30 KO in the bar graph represent mito-QC and mito-QC/Usp30 KO, respectively. Significance determined by unpaired, two-tailed Student’s t test. Error bars represent mean ± s.d.; *P < 0.05. Acronyms: WT wild type, GT gene-trap, KO knock out, loxP locus of X-over P1 site, FRT flippase recognition target, SA splice acceptor, pA polyA tail, NEO neomycin resistance cassette, LacZ β-galactosidase. Source data are provided as a Source Data file. Credit: Nature Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-42876-1

In a new study, investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have shed new light on key cellular processes involved in the progression of Parkinson's disease (PD). The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Affecting around 10 million people worldwide, Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by the progressive loss of the group of brain cells responsible for producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a critical role in regulating movement and coordination. As these neurons degenerate and dopamine levels decrease, individuals with Parkinson's disease experience a wide range of symptoms, including tremors, stiffness and difficulties with balance and coordination.

Researchers in the lab of senior author David K. Simon, MD, Ph.D., director of the Parkinson's Disease & Movement Disorders Center at BIDMC, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Cambridge and Mission Therapeutics, performed complementary experiments showing that inhibiting a specific enzyme in a protects the dopamine-producing neurons that are normally lost as PD progresses, effectively halting the progression of the disease.

The findings open the door to the development of novel therapeutics targeting the enzyme that may slow or prevent the progression of Parkinson's disease in people—a major unmet need.

"Our lab is focused on working out the origins of Parkinson's disease and it is our hope that—one day—we will be able to slow down or even prevent in patients," said first author Tracy-Shi Zhang Fang, Ph.D., an instructor in Simon's lab. "The current study's findings pave the way toward that future."

Evidence suggests the die off in Parkinson's disease because something has gone awry with the clearance of the cells' old and dysfunctional mitochondria—organelles that are the source of cells' energy, sometimes called the powerhouse of the cell.

Simon and colleagues focused on an enzyme called USP30 which plays a role in this process. In a mouse model engineered to lack the gene that produces the enzyme—known as a "knockout model" because one specific gene has been deleted for the purposes of experimentation—the researchers observed that the loss of USP30 protected against the development of Parkinson's-like motor symptoms, increased clearance of damaged mitochondria in neurons, and protected against the loss of dopamine-producing neurons.

In a second set of experiments, the team validated the knockout studies using a proprietary molecule developed by Mission Therapeutics to block the enzyme's action in the dopamine-producing neurons. As in the , inhibiting the enzyme's action increased clearance of dysfunctional mitochondria and protected .

"The two experimental strategies together are much more convincing than either alone," said Simon, who is also a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. "Together, our very significant findings support the idea that reducing USP30 warrants further testing for its potentially -modifying effects in PD."

More information: Tracy-Shi Zhang Fang et al, Knockout or inhibition of USP30 protects dopaminergic neurons in a Parkinson's disease mouse model, Nature Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-42876-1

Journal information: Nature Communications
Citation: Researchers halt progression of Parkinson's disease in mouse model (2023, November 14) retrieved 4 March 2024 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Scientists look to cell recycling tools for new ways to treat Parkinson's disease


Feedback to editors