A major breakthrough against Parkinson’s disease has been announced by scientists at the University of Dundee.
A key enzyme that protects the brain against Parkinson’s disease has been the subject of research for a decade and the research team now say they have solved the 3D structure and inner workings of the PINK1 enzyme.
This gives scientists crucial insight in to how the PINK1 enzyme exerts a protective role in Parkinson’s which can lead to the development of drugs able to switch on the enzyme.
Previous genetic research identified mutations in the PINK1 enzyme in patients with early onset Parkinson’s.
The enzyme plays an important role in protecting brain cells against stress but in patients showing a PINK1 mutation, this protective effect is lost. However, until now, it has not been understood how this occurred.
In the new research, published in the journal eLife, the team of Dundee scientists reveal that PINK1 has unique control elements not found in other enzymes of this class that explain how it targets Ubiquitin and Parkin to exert its protective role in Parkinson’s.
The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and Parkinson’s UK, including the Parkinson’s UK branches of Fife and Ayrshire.
The full paper can be viewed here: https://elifesciences.org/articles/29985
Read the University of Dundee Article https://www.dundee.ac.uk/news/2017/dundee-scientists-make-parkinsons-breakthrough.php