Alzheimer’s Linked to Protein that Repairs DNA

Alzheimer’s Linked to Protein that Repairs DNA
Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive deficits could be linked to reduced neuronal levels of BRCA1, a protein typically targeted in cancer research. These were the results of a study entitled "DNA repair factor BRCA1 depletion occurs in Alzheimer brains and impairs cognitive function in mice," published in Nature Communications. Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s are characterized by neurons’ progressive loss of structure and function,   ultimately leading to their death. Many factors have been suggested to contribute to nerve cell death, including membrane damage, mitochondrial dysfunction, and the accumulation of toxic proteins. Defective DNA repair can also be a contributing factor, and this is where the protein comes into play. BRCA1 is a protein involved in DNA repair, notably during the process of cell division, and its impairment is known to cause the development of malignant cells, especially in breast and ovarian cancers. The function of BRCA1 in nerve cells is not yet established, but here researchers hypothesized that DNA repair in neurons contributes to facilitated learning and memory — and an imbalance between damage and repair may lead to neurodegeneration. “BRCA1 has so far been studied primarily in dividing (multiplying) cells and in cancer, which is characterized by abnormal increases in cell numbers. We were therefore surprised to find that it also plays important roles in neurons, which don’t divide, and in a neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by a loss of these brain cells,” first author Elsa Sube
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