In today's Journal of Cell Biology, researchers of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) report that a molecule called ubiquilin regulates levels of presenilins, and is "highly expressed" in human neurons and associated with tangles and plaques in Alzheimer's-afflicted brains. "Ubiquilin is the first molecule, to our knowledge, that has been found to increase presenilin levels in cells," said Mervyn Monteiro, a coauthor on the paper. "Now, we want to see how ubiquilin regulates presenilin proteins carrying Alzheimer's disease mutations. This is an important step in understanding presenilins." The finding may have important consequences to many cellular functions, because presenilins have been linked to diverse biological processes, including calcium regulation, apoptosis, cell cycle regulation, and neurodevelopment.—June Kinoshita

 

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