Scientists identify critical regulator of molecule involved in progression of Alzheimer’s disease

Published on January 23, 2014 at 1:13 PM · No Comments

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have identified a critical regulator of a molecule deeply involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The new study, published in an advance, online edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, shows for the first time that levels of this regulating protein are decreased in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease sufferers and that this decrease could be a significant factor in the advance of the disease.

The regulator is known as Rheb, a protein that many believe may be active in neural plasticity, the ability of the brain to change in response to learning.

In the new study, the scientists found that Rheb binds and regulates activity of a molecule known as BACE1, an important enzyme in Alzheimer’s disease pathology, establishing for the first time a new molecular link between Rheb and BACE1.

“We found that Rheb regulates BACE1, which is a major drug target in Alzheimer’s disease,” said Srini Subramaniam, a TSRI biologist who led the study. “Studies of the autopsied brains of Alzheimer’s patients have found a significant reduction in Rheb, so it is possible that an increase in Rheb could reverse the buildup of amyloid plaque.”

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