Researchers from Kyung Hee University College of Medicine said they have become one step closer to finding the cause of Parkinson’s disease through research that revealed protein DJ-1’s relationship to the disease.
The team led by Professor Kim Sung-hyun confirmed the phenomenon of how the protein called DJ-1, also known as the Parkinson disease protein, impairs synaptic vesicle endocytosis and re-availability at nerve terminals.
Although the DJ-1 protein had previously been confirmed to be linked to Parkinson’s, the exact role it played in the nerve cells was not yet well understood.
The study illuminated the protein can control the reuse of synapse and the recreation of the synapse needed to deliver neurotransmitters. The mutations in the DJ-1 also hindered regular synapse-to-neuron activity, it found.
“DJ-1 appears essential for synaptic vesicle endocytosis and re-availability, and impairment of this function by familial mutants of DJ-1 may be related to the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease,” the researchers wrote.
Professor Kim said that his team intends to apply the research to animals affected by the disease.
“We will research the relationship between synapse function and the expressive actions of animals with Parkinson’s, and establish the related network by expanding the research of the relationship between the synapse function and other Parkinson’s disease genes,” Kim said. “If the study goes well, we will be able to infer the cause of Parkinson’s.”
The research findings were published in the February issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a U.S. journal.