Researchers Uncover Start of Alpha-Synclein Protein Buildup in Parkinson’s Disease

Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute, University College London, and the University of Edinburgh have uncovered how a build-up of harmful protein starts to happen within neurons in Parkinson’s disease, ultimately causing nerve cell death. By looking at how, where, and why this build-up happens, the work provides unique insight into a key biological process driving Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes tremors, slowing of movements, stiffness and can progress to cause severe cognitive problems. It affects approximately 145,000 people in the UK, with this number expected to increase as more people live longer. Parkinson’s is caused by a loss of neurons in specific parts of the brain. In affected nerve cells, a protein called alpha-synuclein (image) misfolds and clumps together into harmful structures. The mechanisms behind this are not yet fully understood. In their paper, published in Nature Neuroscience on August 30, 2022, the researchers reported a new sensitive approach to study what happens to alpha-synuclein during the earliest stages of disease. The open-access article is titled “Pathological Structural Conversion of α-Synuclein at the Mitochondria Induces Neuronal Toxicity.”
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