Two proteins play a key role in triggering Parkinson’s disease. Prof. Dr. Friederike Zunke and PD Dr. Philipp Arnold from FAU are investigating these proteins in more detail, focussing on their structure, how they interact and the influence they have on the disease. The research project has received USD 149,500 in funding for one year from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF).
Parkinson’s is one of the most common diseases of the central nervous system and is still considered to be incurable. There are currently more than 300,000 people in Germany who suffer from Parkinson’s. Although the cause of the disease remains unknown in many cases, certain genes have been shown to increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s. Prof. Dr. Friederike Zunke, assistant professor for translational neurosciences at FAU, and PD Dr. Philipp Arnold from the Institute of Anatomy at FAU are now investigating the protein structure of two of these risk genes.
Two proteins – beta-gluccocerebrosidase (GCase) and LIMP-2 – work together in the cell. They meet, bind and travel together to the lysosome, which is responsible for cellular waste removal. In approximately five to fifteen percent of Parkinson’s patients, the onset of the disease is triggered at least partly by a GCase deficiency. The team of researchers now want to determine how the two proteins interact by producing an artificial model of the protein complex formed between the two proteins. The results may contribute to the development of new pharmacological treatments.