Protein called vimentin is important for keeping active neural stem cells clear of damaging protein aggregates
To function properly, cells need to break down damaged proteins and keep harmful aggregates of clumped proteins under control. Clearing out this clutter is also a crucial step in the activation of neural stem cells (NSCs), when they leave their dormant state, or quiescence, and begin dividing to produce new neural cells. Pictured are NSCs (their nuclei labelled in cyan) in a young mouse’s brain; in red is vimentin, an intermediate filament protein with a crucial role, bringing proteasomes, protein complexes that destroy problem proteins, into contact with aggresomes, concentrated packets of damaged or clumped proteins. Without vimentin, NSCs struggle to recover from protein damage, accumulate more protein aggregates, and exit quiescence less easily. Contributing to both the destruction of aggregated proteins, involved in diseases like Alzheimer’s, and the activation of NSCs, a process that declines with ageing, vimentin could be an interesting target for researchers working towards regenerative therapies.
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