Mapping potential pathways to MND treatment

For the first time, researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ) have mapped out the proteins implicated in the early stages of motor neurone disease (MND). Building on the mapping project, UQ Queensland Brain Institute researcher Dr Rebecca San Gil has discovered that ‘chaperone’ protein, DNAJB5, is particularly abundant early on, sparking curiosity about its role in disease progression.

Journal/conference: Nature Communications

Link to research (DOI): 10.1038/s41467-024-45646-9

Organisation/s: The University of Queensland, Queensland Brain Institute, Macquarie University, The University of Sydney

Funder: National Health and Medical Research Council (RD Wright Career Development Fellowship 1140386), the FightMND Bill Guest Mid-Career Research Fellowship, FightMND IMPACT grant, the Ross Maclean Fellowship, the Brazil Family Program for Neurology, and Motor Neuron Disease Research Australia (IG2062) to A.K.W.. S.S.K. was supported by a Thornton Foundation PhD Scholarship and a MND Research Australia PhD Scholarship top-up scholarship. A.T.B. was supported a Race Against Dementia–Dementia Australia Research Foundation Fellowship. S.T.N. was supported by a FightMND Mid-Career Research Fellowship.

Media release

From: Queensland Brain Institute

Mapping potential pathways to MND treatment 

For the first time, researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ) have mapped out the proteins implicated in the early stages of motor neurone disease (MND).

Dr Rebecca San Gil from Associate Professor Adam Walker’s lab at UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute has developed a longitudinal map of the proteins involved in MND across the trajectory of the disease, identifying potential therapeutic pathways for further investigation.

“The map is a springboard for many more projects exploring the proteins activated and repressed during the onset, early and late stages of MND,” Dr San Gil said.

“These proteins are biological factors that drive disease onset and progress its development over time.

“We measured differences in protein levels in the brain across the trajectory of the disease and collated this information into a longitudinal map.”

The map is now available for scientists worldwide and will accelerate investigations into MND.

Dr San Gil has been working in mouse models of MND to understand the mechanisms driving TDP-43 pathology in the brain, which accounts for 95% of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases and 50% of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).

Building on the mapping project, Dr San Gil chose to focus on a protein-folding factor called DNAJB5.

“Before the onset of MND in mouse models, we observed a marked increase in protein groups responsible for physically assisting in the protein folding process.

“One of these ‘chaperone’ proteins, DNAJB5, was particularly abundant early on, sparking our curiosity about its role in disease progression.

“In human brain tissue, we found DNAJB5 enriched in areas where TDP-43 aggregates.

“The short-term elevation of DNAJB5 is likely a protective mechanism by neurons in an attempt to control TDP-43 as it begins to dysfunction.

“This protective response to TDP-43 needs further investigation because it may help us identify preventative and therapeutic approaches to MND.”

A/ Prof Walker envisions that the lab will continue to follow other identified protein pathways, using gene therapy and repurposing medicine, to see if they can alter or prevent the disease.

This paper was published in Nature Communications.

Compiling the TDP map was a collaborative project with researchers from Macquarie University, the University of Auckland, and the Children’s Medical Research Institute.

SOURCE

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