Proteins that fold wrongly and group together form Amyloids. Assembly of these amyloids at the wrong place or time they can damage brain tissue and cause cell death, according to Margery Evans, lead author of the study who conducted the research while at the University of Michigan.
The findings may be an opening to a new therapeutic approach for combating neurodegenerative maladies like Parkinson’s as they provide a means to target amyloids associated with them.
However, there are some good amyloids as well and these and are useful for cell function. The helpful amyloids produced by E coli do not form on the inside of the cell where they would be toxic. “It means that something in E coli very specifically inhibits the assembly of the amyloid inside the cell. Therefore, amyloid formation only occurs outside the cell where it does not cause toxicity,” said Evans.
In their biochemical hunt to understand this phenomenon the scientists uncovered a protein called CsgC that is a very specific, effective inhibitor of E coli amyloid formation. They found that the CsgC protein also inhibits amyloid formation of the kind associated with Parkinson’s.