New test paves way for potential treatments to target Alzheimer's and other conditions

July 17, 2017, University of Bradford

A simple methodology for capturing proteins implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease and other conditions has been developed by researchers at the University of Bradford and University of Dundee.

The new methodology involves easily trapping proteins that bear a specific modification that can provide potential markers for conditions. The specific modification is based on and when attached to a affects how the . Protein modification is a normal, carefully regulated cellular function, but in some instances this can go wrong.

Alzheimer's, along with other conditions including cancers, type 2 diabetes, and cardio-vascular , is affected by dysregulation (abnormal or imperfect regulation) of these sugar modifications to proteins. Identifying such proteins is a key step in understanding their involvement in these various .

The newly developed methodology could open the way for treatments that target these protein alterations, and ultimately the condition.

Previously, capturing these proteins has been very difficult as the sugar modification was prone to falling off the protein. In order to capture them, researcher's required highly specialised laboratory equipment and extensive validation of identified proteins. This new method is simple and can be carried out by any laboratory, opening the way to rapid identification of proteins involved in the development of a number of diseases.

It also opens up the possibilities for therapies to be developed to target specific proteins identified as being aberrantly modified in these disease processes.

The methodology involves growing a protein with an engineered tail that grabs the sugar-modified protein only. This can then be added to complex protein mixtures obtained from tissue. The modified tail is then used as a handle to pull out all proteins that bear the sugar modification and so separate those proteins that have the modification from those that do not. These proteins can then be identified using several different routine laboratory techniques.

Dr Ritchie Williamson of the University of Bradford said: "This represents a major step forward. We are now in a position where we can easily trap the proteins we need to target. If we can do this we can then identify the proteins which we think may be involved in the disease process. We also have the potential to find biomarkers, especially in younger people, and to probe different diseases."

Explore further: Plant regulatory proteins 'tagged' with sugar

More information: Nithya Selvan et al, A mutant O-GlcNAcase enriches Drosophila developmental regulators, Nature Chemical Biology (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2404

Related Stories

Plant regulatory proteins 'tagged' with sugar

January 30, 2017

New work from Carnegie's Shouling Xu and Zhiyong Wang reveals that the process of synthesizing many important master proteins in plants involves extensive modification, or "tagging" by sugars after the protein is assembled. ...

Sugar key to cellular protein protection and viability

March 16, 2015

A Simon Fraser University laboratory's breakthrough in understanding how a specialized sugar regulates protein levels in our cells could generate new targets for therapies to treat diseases caused by improper protein regulation. ...

When a lack of sugar drives cells to eat themselves

June 1, 2017

Autophagy is the recycling process by which our cells keep themselves young. They continually break down and renew small parts of themselves in a kind of self-digestion; this helps to counteract harmful deposits which may ...

Recommended for you

GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells

April 19, 2018

Determining the presence of cancer, as well as its type and malignancy, is a stressful process for patients that can take up to two weeks to get a diagnosis. With a new bit of technology—a sugar-transporting biosensor—researchers ...

Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

April 19, 2018

UConn researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Machine-learning software predicts behavior of bacteria

April 19, 2018

In a first for machine-learning algorithms, a new piece of software developed at Caltech can predict behavior of bacteria by reading the content of a gene. The breakthrough could have significant implications for our understanding ...

Porous salts for fuel cells

April 19, 2018

Scientists have developed a new class of crystalline porous organic salts with high proton conductivity for applications such as proton-exchange membranes for fuel cells. As reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie, polar ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.