Posted tagged ‘Shadoo Protein’

Shadoo Protein detected by student researcher

May 4, 2009

  

may09-david-westawayAnother step forward in understanding what causes prion diseases like mad cow is the recent discovery of the shadoo protein.

Dr. David Westaway of the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases at the University of Alberta says shadoo is the name given to a theoretical protein by scientists studying DNA sequences on chromosomes. Its actual existence was confirmed by a student in Westaway’s lab. The student showed that shadoo is abundant in the brain and has a lot of features similar to normal prion proteins.

As Westaway explains, “We think that they may be part of a family of molecules on the surface of brain cells that help brain cells deal with damage. We have looked at what happens to the shadoo protein in an animal that has a prion disease… We were very surprised to get a very simple answer: that the shadoo protein starts to disappear. In one sense, the fact that the shadoo protein disappears when animals are replicating prions, it is what we call a tracer. We didn’t expect to make this discovery, but somehow when the protein is disappearing, it’s telling you that prions are replicating.”

Dr. Westaway speculates this may be related to yet another class of proteins called proteazes which function as a waste disposal team in the body. √    ~ Cheryl Croucher

 You can learn more about the research underway at the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases at www.prioncentre.ca.