Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Clearing Things Up

Role of enzyme PRPS in neurological disorders revealed

10 October 2019

Clearing Things Up

You can appreciate the essential role a brain surgeon is performing without understanding exactly how they do it. The same applies to molecules in the body, such as the enzyme PRPS, which researchers know is integral to several neurological diseases, but don’t fully understand. Unpicking its role could spark new treatments, so researchers blocked its action in fruit flies to see what processes were affected. Flies lacking the enzyme starved more quickly in tests, because they couldn’t digest fat stored in lipid droplets (red, unchanged after 48 hours of starvation in test flies, bottom right, compared to before starvation, left, and unaltered flies, top). This reveals PRPS is needed for autophagy – a process involved in disassembling cells, maintaining a stable internal environment, and known to be involved in nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s. Revealing this and other mechanisms of PRPS is the first step in tackling its unwanted effects.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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