Enzyme Slices Off Protein Chunks That End up Toxic, Contributing to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, Study Reports

Enzyme Slices Off Protein Chunks That End up Toxic, Contributing to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, Study Reports
An enzyme called asparagine endopeptidase contributes to Parkinson’s as well as Alzheimer's by slicing off fragments of proteins that end up being toxic, a study reports. Previous researched showed that the enzyme, also known as AEP, plays a role in Alzheimer’s. The new study indicates it plays a role in Parkinson’s, too. The research, “Asparagine endopeptidase cleaves α-synuclein and mediates pathologic activities in Parkinson's disease,” was published in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. An accumulation of faulty proteins in neurons triggers neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. A hallmark of Alzheimer’s is the formation of tau protein clumps, while in Parkinson’s it is alpha-synuclein clumps. The mechanisms underlying these defects have yet to be fully understood, but researchers have identified a strong candidate: the AEP enzyme. "In Parkinson's, alpha-synuclein behaves much like Tau in Alzheimer's," Dr. Keqiang Ye, the senior author of the study, said in a news release. "We reasoned that if AEP cuts Tau, it's very likely that it will cut alpha-synuclein, too." The team discovered that AEP slices off pieces of the human form of alpha-synuclein, leading to it clumping and accumulating in neurons. This affects the normal functioning and survival of neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Loss of dopamine-producing neurons contributes to move
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