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Posted: Oct 16, 2012
New model of prion transport through a tunneling nanotube discovered
(Nanowerk News) A recently published article in Nanotube Therapy, open access journal by Versita, addresses a current neuroengineering and pathology research problem concerning prion infection and transport within neuronal cells. The article by Kuznetsov and Kuznetsov features a newly developed, ground-breaking computational model of prion transport from an infected immune cell to a neural cell. The development advances our understanding of prion diseases - which are usually rapidly progressive and always fatal – with Creutzfeldt Jacobs Disease (CJD) to name the most infamous one. The model is the first computational prototype of prion transport through tunneling nanotubes of infected cells.
The symptoms of CJD are caused by the progressive death of the brain's nerve cells, which is related to the build-up of abnormal prion proteins forming amyloids. When brain tissue from a CJD patient is examined under a microscope, many tiny holes can be seen where whole areas of nerve cells have died.
Underlining the research findings, Professor David Foster of the University of Rochester said: In their paper “A minimal model of prion transport through a tunneling nanotube,” Nanotube Therapy (2012)”, the authors developed a useful mathematical model to describe the propagation of a prion concentration pulse entering a tunneling nanotube from an infected immune cell and propagating toward a neuron cell. The model accounts for both lateral diffusion and driven transport in endosomes. The results are useful since they predict that actomyosin dependent transport is the major mechanism of prion transfer in tunneling nanotubes. Since tunneling nanotubes play an important role in many diseases, this model serves as an important step toward a better understanding of prion transport.
The researchers, working in collaboration, formulated and solved a mathematical model that represents the basic system of a prion molecule in a membrane nanotube. The model predicts that actomyosin-dependent transport, rather than lateral diffusion, is the major mechanism of prion transfer through tunneling nanotubes. This discovery is hoped to be utilized by dedicated prion researchers and to further advance therapeutic strategies for the affected patients.