Degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and type 2 diabetes may share common structural features at the molecular level, reports a paper published online by Nature. The findings suggest an atomic-level hypothesis for these conditions and may aid the design of future therapies.
It's already known that amyloid diseases share certain similarities - in each disease a different protein folds abnormally, yielding clumps known as amyloid fibrils. But the fibril aggregates are always remarkably similar.
David Eisenberg and colleagues have now identified 30 short fibril-forming peptides taken from a large range of amyloid diseases and solved the atomic structure of 13 of them. They reveal one common feature: the 'steric zipper' that 'glues' together pairs of interwoven amino acids called beta-sheets.
The new finding may help to explain why amyloid fibrils from different diseases are so strong, despite the fact that they are formed from different proteins. It may also throw up new possible drug targets for these devastating illnesses.
David Eisenberg (University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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