Cancer-related protein may play key role in Alzheimer's disease

Feb 28, 2008

The cancer-related protein Akt may profoundly influence the fate of the tau protein, which forms bundles of tangled nerve cell fibers in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease, reports a new study led by researchers at the University of South Florida and the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.

The study was published online Feb. 21 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings may provide another piece of the puzzle in figuring out how tau proteins can poison nerve cells in the brain.

Akt is known to increase cancer cell survival capability and has become a target in the development of some cancer-inhibitor drugs. The abnormal accumulation of tau protein tangles kills nerve cells and is considered one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This study describes for the first time a new function for the cancer-related protein Akt – one that may help promote Alzheimer’s disease pathology,” said lead author Chad Dickey, PhD, assistant professor of molecular pharmacology and physiology at USF. “We found that increased amounts of Akt may prevent the removal of abnormal proteins, such as tau, causing these proteins to accumulate and disrupt the balance within the cells.”

While this Akt-induced imbalance might result in cancer cells continuing to divide uncontrollably, Dr. Dickey suggests it likely has a different effect in Alzheimer’s disease. “The nerve cells may try to divide in the brain, but cannot, and therefore die,” he said. “Thus regulating levels of Akt, rather than its activity, may be beneficial to sufferers of diseases of aging, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and even diabetes.”

Source: University of South Florida

Explore further: The impact of bacteria in our guts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Understanding how the brain retrieves memories

Jul 17, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Livermore scientists are developing electrode array technology for monitoring brain activity as part of a collaborative research project with UC San Francisco to better understand how the ...

'Work environment' affects protein properties

Jul 03, 2014

The function of proteins, which fulfil various tasks inside the cells, is often analysed in aqueous buffer solutions. However, it is not known, for example in case of pharmaceutical studies, if they work ...

Jekyll and Hyde protein signalling

Jun 23, 2014

Whether a cell lives or dies is determined by complex protein networks within the body. Researchers in Systems Biology Ireland and UCD Conway Institute have uncovered how these opposing biological functions are regulated ...

Recommended for you

The impact of bacteria in our guts

Aug 22, 2014

The word metabolism gets tossed around a lot, but it means much more than whether you can go back to the buffet for seconds without worrying about your waistline. In fact, metabolism is the set of biochemical ...

Stem cell therapies hold promise, but obstacles remain

Aug 22, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—In an article appearing online today in the journal Science, a group of researchers, including University of Rochester neurologist Steve Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., review the potential and ch ...

New hope in fight against muscular dystrophy

Aug 22, 2014

Research at Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology offers hope to those who suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an incurable, debilitating disease that cuts young lives short.

Biologists reprogram skin cells to mimic rare disease

Aug 21, 2014

Johns Hopkins stem cell biologists have found a way to reprogram a patient's skin cells into cells that mimic and display many biological features of a rare genetic disorder called familial dysautonomia. ...

User comments : 0