Scientists have identified a gene that helps prevent the harmful buildup of proteins that can lead to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The researchers found that the ‘Ankrd16’ gene acts like a failsafe in proofreading and correcting errors to avoid the abnormal production of improper proteins.
Scientists know that faulty proteins can cause harmful deposits or “aggregates” in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Although the causes of these protein deposits remain a mystery, it is known that abnormal aggregates can result when cells fail to transmit proper genetic information to proteins. University of California San Diego Professor Susan Ackerman and her colleagues first highlighted this cause of brain disease more than 10 years ago. Now, probing deeper into this research, she and colleagues have identified a gene, Ankrd16, that prevents the protein aggregates they originally observed.