August 15, 2011

Shape of Key Protein Surprises Researchers

Alpha-synuclein — a protein that forms clumps in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s””has likely been mischaracterized. Scientists have long assumed that alpha-synuclein occurs in healthy cells as a single, randomly-coiled chain of chemical building blocks. This study, however, demonstrates that alpha-synuclein occurs in healthy cells as a tidy package assembled from four identical chains with orderly folds. The finding opens the door to a new therapeutic approach.

Credit: Harvard Medical School

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