University of Bath
Title: Alpha-Synuclein and Cellular Iron Reduction
Alzheimer's Research UK
Brian diseases such as Parkinsons Disease are likely to be caused by changes to certain brain proteins. While we dont know how these changes occur we do know what changes occur. In the case of Parkinsons disease aggregates of a protein called alpha-synuclein can be detected in the brain. One of the difficulties in discovering how these changes occur and how these changes might cause Parkinsons disease has been not knowing what alpha-synuclein actually does in the brain normally. We have made the first major breakthrough in understanding what alpha-synuclein does. We have shown that it is an enzyme that can change iron to a form more commonly used by cells. This activity known as ferrireductase activity (FR) is likely to have protective effect but increase or loss of this activity might be damaging to cells in the brain. In this project we will study FR activity of alpha-synuclein and see whether it is changed in disease and and how change in this activity affects cells. It is possible that the generation of excess reduced iron because of too high alpha-synuclein levels might explain the loss of dopamine cells in the brain of Parkinson’s disease and some other dementias.