Brain aging is associated with a progressive imbalance between antioxidant defenses and intracellular concentrations of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as exemplified by increases in products of lipid peroxidation, protein oxidation, and DNA oxidation. Oxidative conditions cause not only structural damage but also changes in the set points of redox-sensitive signaling processes including the insulin receptor signaling pathway. In the absence of insulin, the otherwise low insulin receptor signaling is strongly enhanced by oxidative conditions.
The Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a recessive neurodegenerative disease, is characterized by the selective loss of spinal motor neurons. No available therapy exists for SMA, which represents one of the leading genetic causes of death in childhood. SMA is caused by a mutation of the survival-of-motor-neuron 1 (SMN1) gene, leading to a quantitative defect in the survival-motor-neuron (SMN) protein expression. All patients retain one or more copies of the SMN2 gene, which modulates the disease severity by producing a small amount of stable SMN protein.
Insertions or deletions (indels) of amino acids residues have been recognized as an important source of genetic and structural divergence between paralogous Bcl-2 family members. However, these signature sequences have not so far been extensively investigated amongst orthologous Bcl-2 family proteins. Bcl2l10 is an antiapoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family that has evolved rapidly throughout the vertebrate lineage and which shows conserved abundant expression in eggs and oocytes.
?-Synuclein is the key aggregating protein in Parkinson's disease (PD), which is characterized by cytoplasmic protein inclusion bodies, termed Lewy bodies, thought to increase longevity of the host neuron by sequestering toxic soluble ?-synuclein oligomers. Previous post-mortem studies have shown relative sparing of neurons in PD that are positive for the Ca(2+) buffering protein, calbindin, and recent cell culture and in vitro studies have shown that ?-synuclein aggregation can be induced by Ca(2+).
Most neurons are born with the potential to live for the entire lifespan of the organism. In addition, neurons are highly polarized cells with often long axons, extensively branched dendritic trees and many synaptic contacts. Longevity together with morphological complexity results in a formidable challenge to maintain synapses healthy and functional. This challenge is often evoked to explain adult-onset degeneration in numerous neurodegenerative disorders that result from otherwise divergent causes.
The introduction of high-resolution time lapse imaging and molecular biological tools has changed dramatically the rate of progress towards the understanding of the complex structure-function relations in synapses of central spiny neurons. Standing issues, including the sequence of molecular and structural processes leading to formation, morphological change, and longevity of dendritic spines, as well as the functions of dendritic spines in neurological/psychiatric diseases are being addressed in a growing number of recent studies.