TDP-43 Protein And Its Links With Neurodegenerative Diseases ~ Domenico Pratico, MD, FCPP

TDP-43 Protein And Its Links With Neurodegenerative Diseases
Professor Domenico Pratico explaining TDP-43 links with neurodegenerative diseases
The seamless coordination of numerous proteins and enzymes is essential to the complex functioning of the human brain. The TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is one of them and has just recently come under close scientific study. Aberrations in the TDP-43 protein have since been associated with a variety of neurodegenerative illnesses, most notably frontotemporal dementia (FTLD-TDP) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), despite the protein’s initial identification as an essential component in DNA break repair.

The 43-kilodalton protein TDP-43, also known as transactive response DNA binding protein 43, plays a fundamental but mostly unnoticed function in many biological processes. It actively participates in the intricate repair processes for DNA breaks, preserving the genomic stability necessary for normal cellular function. Researchers have discovered pernicious linkages between this protein’s abnormal behavior and neurological degeneration.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is likely the most well-known disease linked to TDP-43 mutations. Motor function is lost as a result of ALS, a neurodegenerative condition that worsens over time and destroys nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It’s interesting to note that studies have found a link between 10% of familial ALS cases, which are inherited and make up a lesser percentage of all ALS diagnoses, and harmful mutations in the TDP-43 protein. This information highlights TDP-43’s important, but hitherto underappreciated, contribution to neuronal health.

The frontal and temporal lobes of the brain gradually atrophy in frontotemporal dementia, a debilitating neurological condition. TDP-43 also has a powerful, devastating impact in this situation. In the majority of FTLD cases, a distorted form of the protein known as pathologic TDP-43 appears as a common factor. In striking contrast to its normal form, this pathogenic protein is hyperphosphorylated, ubiquitinated, and cleaved, identifying a unique pathobiology known as FTLD-TDP.

Beyond ALS and FTLD-TDP, TDP-43 has an impact on a variety of conditions. TDP-43 protein levels have also been associated to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative condition frequently identified in athletes with a history of repeated brain trauma, including numerous concussions. Our understanding of CTE is expanded by this finding, which suggests that TDP-43 may serve as a biomarker or potentially contribute to the pathogenesis of the illness.

Both alarming and illuminating, the identification of TDP-43’s involvement in such a wide range of neurodegenerative disorders. It not only needs a deeper investigation into the protein’s typical physiological functions but also highlights the urgent need to comprehend how its malfunction results in such dire health consequences. The tale of TDP-43 serves as a harsh reminder of the fragile balance our neurological health dangerously hangs upon as researchers work to unravel the secrets of the human brain. Future studies and therapeutic approaches that target TDP-43 may hold the solution to slowing down or perhaps stopping the spread of neurodegenerative disorders that are still incurable.

Check out the recent blog: “Let’s Stamp Out Alzheimer’s Disease”

Domenico Praticò, MD, is the Scott Richards North Star Charitable Foundation Chair for Alzheimer’s Research, Professor and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple, and Professor of Pharmacology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

You can find out more information on Dr. Domenico Pratico’s research papers here.

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