From Science Daily:

A study led by biomedical researchers at Indiana University has found evidence that an enzyme known as NMNAT2 may help protect against the debilitating effects of certain degenerative brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

The research was led by Hui-Chen Lu, the Gill Professor in the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, a part of the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences. First author Yousuf Ali, an IU research scientist, and three other members of Lu’s lab conducted the work in collaboration with researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rush University, University of Texas and Harvard University.

The results appear June 2 in the journal PLOS Biology.

“This study found that NMNAT2, or nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyl transferase 2, is a key neuronal maintenance factor,” Lu said. “It exerts both an enzyme function to protect neurons from stress caused by over-excitation, and a ‘chaperone’ function, shown for the first time in this study, to combat the misfolded proteins encountered by the brain during aging.”

Many neurodegenerative disorders are caused by accumulation of proteins in the brain. These conditions, called proteinopathies, occur when proteins “misfold,” causing them to grow “sticky” and clump up in the brain in a form often referred to as “plaques,” or “tangles.” As a molecular chaperone, NMNAT2 binds to misfolded proteins to prevent or repair the errors that cause these clumps.

Common proteinopathies are Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, as well as amyotrophic lateral…

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