MARK TINGEY, DOMINIC VASTURIA, AND KATIE SHEETS
Next in its series of educational posts, LifeSensors is proud to discuss the role the proteins play in neurodegenerative diseases. This series of posts will inform as to the general nature of proteins and what proteins have been implicated in the neurodegenerative diseases Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.
When many people think of proteins, they think about their diet. In the bio-sciences, a protein is something very different. A protein is a large molecule which performs a function. These functions can occur within the cell, in the cell membrane, or even outside of the cell. This function can be anything from a passive structural function to an active function which requires energy. Together, the proteins of our cells make the complex human machine function.
Occasionally, a protein will lose its capacity to perform its function. This may be due to the age of the protein or some other effector causing it to no longer function properly. When this happens, cells utilize another protein called ubiquitin to tag that protein for degradation. When a cell continually produces a dysfunctional protein, other proteins will become activated which tell the cell to begin the process of programmed cell death called apoptosis. Cells do this so that they don’t reproduce and spread the defect which is causing dysfunctional proteins to be produced.
Not all cells go into apoptosis when they are producing dysfunctional proteins, instead they reproduce. Thereby, spreading more cells with this issue which, in turn, reproduce and spread the issue further. Cells with dysfunctional or unregulated proteins is the underlying cause of a wide variety of diseases. This is the case for two very well-known diseases, Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. Two of our scientists, Dominic Vasturia and Katie Sheets, have put together profiles of a few of the proteins most commonly associated with these diseases. Just click the name of the protein listed below here to be redirected to the individual protein profiles.