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4 Neurodegenerative Disease Mechanisms Discovered By Experiments On Yeast

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Neurodegenerative diseases kill cells by interfering with fundamental biological processes that are common between species as diverse as complicated beings like humans and simpler ones like yeast. Thanks to the conservation of cellular structures and functions across eukaryotic life, molecular biology researchers can now study the genetic and molecular roots of neurodegenerative diseases in various model organisms. 

Yeast cells are an especially valuable system because the fungi grow quickly, are cheap to keep, and can be genetically modified more easily than any other eukaryote. Researchers created yeast models with mutations linked to specific brain diseases, allowing for unrivaled speed and scale in neurodegeneration research. 

While MBP INC is always here to provide you with all the equipment needed for molecular biology experiments such as tissue culture plates, pipette tips, and pipettes, this blog will give you some examples of disease mechanisms that molecular biologists have begun to discover by experimenting on yeast.

What Are Neurodegenerative Diseases?

The term “neurodegenerative disease” refers to a group of conditions that primarily affect the neurons in the human brain. Neurodegenerative diseases pose a significant threat to human health. These age-related disorders are becoming more common, thanks in part to an increase in the elderly population in recent years.

Neurodegenerative diseases are incurable and debilitating conditions that cause nerve cell degeneration and/or death. This causes movement problems (known as ataxias), and mental functioning problems (known as dementias), and affects a person’s ability to move, speak, and breathe. Many families are affected by neurodegenerative disorders; these disorders are difficult for both the individual and their loved ones. (Physiopedia)

Aggregation Of Proteins

When proteins are disrupted or denatured, they frequently adhere to one another, forming clusters referred to as protein aggregates. Protein aggregates grow in size and number if not removed by the cell, hindering a variety of cellular functions and eventually killing cells.

Yeast research contributed to the understanding of the central role of protein aggregation in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, dementia, and Huntington’s disease. Yeast has also become an important platform for discovering and testing therapies that can prevent or reverse protein aggregation. (THE SCIENTIST)

Transport Of Nucleocytoplasmic

Cells transport molecules into and out of the nucleus for a variety of reasons, including the export of mRNAs after transcription and the import of newly synthesized nuclear proteins.

Yeast research contributed to the discovery that nucleocytoplasmic transport is impaired in ALS and dementia. A new drug that improves this process is being tested in a Biogen clinical trial.

Mitochondrial Activity

Mitochondria are organelles that produce the majority of a cell’s energy and control its metabolism. Because neurons consume a lot of energy, they are especially susceptible to mitochondrial dysfunction.

Yeast research found that the alterations that cause Friedreich’s ataxia and Mohr-Tranebjarg syndrome kill cells by damaging mitochondria and that abnormal activity of many proteins, including the ALS-linked protein SOD1, hinders mitochondrial function, pointing to new therapeutic targets for these diseases. (THE SCIENTIST)

Trafficking In Veins

Membrane-bound vesicles are shuttled to the plasma membrane to insert transmembrane proteins and secrete vesicular contents. This trafficking is extremely crucial for neuron function and health because neurons use it to discharge neurotransmitters during synaptic transmission.

Yeast strains expressing human amyloid-beta helped researchers understand how this protein aggregation impairs vesicular trafficking and kills cells in Alzheimer’s disease.

Protein Quality Control Pathways

Two protein quality control pathways, the ubiquitin-proteasome system, and autophagy remove damaged and misfolded proteins from the cell through their action. Both pathways’ activity declines with age, causing damaged and misfolded proteins to aggregate and eventually lead to neurodegeneration.

Many components and mechanisms of the ubiquitin-proteasome system and autophagy were found in yeast, and yeast has been extremely helpful to researchers in understanding how mutations in many disease-linked genes cause impairments in both pathways.

To Wrap Up:

We hope you now have an idea about Neurodegenerative diseases and we hope you found this article interesting. All in all, yeast has helped molecular biologists explore a lot about this disease and we can expect much development in coming times. Till then, MBP INC has got you covered if you’re looking for equipment like treated plates, tissue culture plates, pipettes, tips, etc. 

Works Cited

“Infographic: Modeling Neurodegenerative Diseases with Yeast.” The Scientist Magazine, 1 October 2021, Accessed 16 August 2022.

“Neurodegenerative Disease.” Physiopedia, 02 August 2017, Accessed 16 August 2022.

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