A Korean research team has found a new mechanism to eliminate the cause of dementia.
The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST President Yoon Seok-jin) announced on the 27th that it had discovered the principle of decomposing ‘tau protein’, which is considered a potent cause of dementia, through autophagy.
Autophagy refers to a phenomenon in which cells use themselves as energy sources by decomposing unnecessary components and organelles. Existing studies mostly induce the removal of tau protein using the proteasome, a proteolytic enzyme, but have not yet achieved clear results. The identification of the decomposition principle is expected to bring about a major change in existing dementia treatment strategies.
Abnormal aggregation of tau protein in brain neurons has been discussed as a major cause of dementia. It is known that when tau protein aggregates and accumulates, it destroys nerve cells and causes cognitive function and memory loss. However, the exact process by which tau protein is aggregated and degraded in nerve cells has not been elucidated so far.
A joint research team consisting of a team of Ph.D., Hoon Ryu, KIST Brain Science Research Center, a team of Ph.D., Kwon U Kwon of the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (President Jang-Seong Kim), and Eun-Joo Song of Ewha Womans University, professor of Ewha Womans University, conducted a joint research team that manipulated the mRNA gene in the dementia fruit fly and mouse model experiment to produce the UBE4B protein When the expression was increased, abnormal aggregation of tau protein was decreased, and it was confirmed that the behavior of the experimental animals with dementia was improved. It was found that an increase in UBE4B promotes the degradation of tau protein.
Through this, the researchers gained more detailed knowledge about the cellular tau protein degradation mechanism, which was difficult to explain. It is the fact that autophagy is more effective in removing tau than the previously known proteasome. The research team is in the process of applying for a patent for a novel tau protein degradation regulator as the possibility of developing a treatment for dementia and diagnosis of dementia by targeting UBE4B, which induces autophagy, is increasing.
Dr. Hoon Ryu of KIST said, “It is very meaningful that we identified a new way to prevent and improve dementia pathology by identifying the process in which the tau protein molecule is degraded by autophagy (autophagy).” In addition, Dr. Kwon Yu of KRIBB said, “The novel tau protein degradation mechanism discovered in the Drosophila dementia model is also confirmed in the mouse dementia model, and will suggest a new dementia response strategy.”
This research was carried out as a major KIST project with the support of the Ministry of Science and ICT (Minister Hye-sook Lim), and the research results were published in the latest issue of the international academic journal ‘Nature Communications’ (IF 12.121).
By Kim Young-jun, staff reporter [email protected]