Unprecedented view of protein folding may help develop brain disease therapies

We found this interesting article about protein folding. Being able to ‘see’ this for the first time seems to show the way to help develop new brain disease therapies – Deskarati –

When vital proteins in our bodies are misfolded, debilitating diseases can result. If researchers could see the folding happen, they might be able to design treatments for some of these diseases or even keep them from occurring. But many of our most critical proteins are folded, hidden from sight, inside tiny molecular chambers. Now researchers at Stanford have gotten the first-ever peek inside one of these protein-folding chambers as the folding happened, and the folding mechanism they saw surprised them.

Misfold an origami swan and the worst that happens is you wind up with an ugly paper duckling. Misfold one of the vital proteins in your body — each of which must be folded in a particular way to perform its function — and the result can be a debilitating neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s. There are no cures for such brain-wasting diseases, but now Stanford researchers have taken an important step that may one day aid in developing therapies for them. They have literally popped the lid off one of the microscopic chambers in which many of life’s most crucial proteins are folded, witnessing a surprising mechanism as the heretofore hidden folding process happened before their eyes.

Virtually all proteins need to be folded, whether in primitive organisms such as bacteria or multicellular creatures such as humans. Many are guided through the process by molecules called chaperones, of which a specialized subset — chaperonins — folds many of the most complex proteins. Folding in bacteria has been studied in detail, but Judith Frydman, a professor of biology who led the Stanford research, said this is the first time anyone has seen the folding process performed in higher organisms.

“The mechanism of folding we saw in the chaperonin is very different from what we expected and from what has been seen in bacteria,” Frydman said. “It was really surprising, and we are still amazed that it worked. This chaperonin appears to provide a unique chemical environment.”

To understand how this is achieved continue reading here ScienceDaily

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