Link Between Lysosomes and Granulins in Brain Cells May Aid Understanding of Alzheimer’s

Link Between Lysosomes and Granulins in Brain Cells May Aid Understanding of Alzheimer’s
Researchers developed antibodies targeting a group of proteins called granulins, and discovered for the first time that they're important to the well-being of lysosomes, which are vital organelles linked to neurodegenerative diseases that include Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). This discovery, by a research team at Emory University School of Medicine, may foster a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying Alzheimer's and similar diseases. The study “Intracellular Proteolysis of Progranulin Generates Stable, Lysosomal Granulins That Are Haploinsufficient in Patients with Frontotemporal Dementia Caused by GRN Mutations” was published in the journal eNeuro. How granulins function is not well understood, but the scientists found they’re located in small organelles inside cells, called lysosomes — not outside, as some previously thought. Lysosomes carry out the critical task of disposing of and recycling cellular material. FTD and other neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by lysosome dysfunction, suggesting that granulins could be important for lysosome health in brain cells. "A lysosomal function for granulins is exciting and novel. We believe it may provide an explanation why decreased levels of granulins are linked to multiple neurodegenerative diseases, ranging from frontotemporal dementia to Alzheimer's," the study's lead author, Thomas Kukar, PhD, an assistant professor of pharmacology and neurology at Emory's Center for Neurodegenerative Disease, said in a
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