A team of researchers has identified a key protein, TAF15, in individuals with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Utilizing sophisticated neuropathological and molecular methodologies, this discovery opens new paths for treatment and marks a significant advancement in understanding and potentially addressing this type of dementia.
The potential for developing specific therapeutic interventions for frontotemporal dementia arises from this discovery.
Involving a global consortium of researchers, including specialists from the Indiana University School of Medicine, the study pinpointed a protein prevalent in the brains of those with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), unveiling a new target for potential disease therapies.
Deciphering Frontotemporal Dementia
The National Institutes of Health explains that FTD is caused by neuronal damage in the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes. Symptoms in people with this dementia type typically manifest between ages 25 and 65 and include abnormal behaviors, emotional disturbances, communication difficulties, challenges at work, and sometimes problems with walking.
Innovations in Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases
Neurodegenerative conditions, such as dementias and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), involve specific proteins forming amyloid filaments in the brain and spinal cord nerve cells. The research team, comprising members from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the IU School of Medicine, and the University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology, discovered that in FTD cases, the TAF15 protein forms these amyloid filaments in brain and spinal cord cells. Their findings were published in the journal Nature on December 6.
Cryo-EM structure of TAF15 amyloid filaments identified in frontotemporal dementia patients. Credit: Indiana University
Dr. Bernardino Ghetti, a Distinguished Professor at the IU School of Medicine with 50 years of experience in studying neurodegenerative dementias, played a pivotal role in this research. Ghetti’s team examined protein aggregates from the brains of four individuals with frontotemporal dementia and motor weakness. In collaboration with UK colleagues, they employed neuropathologic and molecular techniques alongside advanced cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) at atomic resolution, revealing TAF15 protein’s amyloid filaments in various brain regions. It’s critical to acknowledge that TAF15 amyloid also impacts motor system nerve cells.
A Significant Advancement
Dr. Ghetti stated, “This discovery is a notable advancement, identifying TAF15 as a possible target for creating diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for a less familiar type of frontotemporal lobar degeneration associated with frontotemporal dementia.”
Reference: “TAF15 amyloid filaments in frontotemporal lobar degeneration” by Stephan Tetter, Diana Arseni, Alexey G. Murzin, Yazead Buhidma, Sew Y. Peak-Chew, Holly J. Garringer, Kathy L. Newell, Ruben Vidal, Liana G. Apostolova, Tammaryn Lashley, Bernardino Ghetti and Benjamin Ryskeldi-Falcon, 6 December 2023, Nature.
Other contributing authors include Stephan Tetter, Diana Arseni, Alexey G. Murzin, Sew Y. Peak-Chew, and Benjamin Ryskeldi-Falcon from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology; Yazead Buhidma and Tammaryn Lashley from University College London; and Holly J. Garringer, Kathy L. Newell, Ruben Vidal, and Liana G. Apostolova from the IU School of Medicine.
The study received partial funding from the NIH’s National Institute on Aging and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about TAF15 Protein Research
What is TAF15 and its significance in frontotemporal dementia research?
TAF15 is a protein found in the brain and spinal cord cells of individuals with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Its identification by researchers, including experts from the Indiana University School of Medicine, marks a breakthrough in understanding FTD and opens new avenues for targeted treatments.
How does frontotemporal dementia affect individuals?
Frontotemporal dementia results from damage to neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. It typically presents symptoms like unusual behaviors, emotional problems, communication difficulties, and sometimes issues with walking in individuals aged 25 to 65.
What are the key findings of the recent FTD research involving TAF15?
The study, involving a global team of researchers, discovered that in FTD cases, the TAF15 protein forms amyloid filaments in the brain and spinal cord cells. This finding is crucial for developing potential therapeutic strategies for FTD.
What techniques were used in the research on TAF15 and frontotemporal dementia?
The research employed advanced neuropathologic and molecular techniques, including cutting-edge cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) at atomic resolution, to study protein aggregates and identify the presence of TAF15 amyloid filaments in the brain.
Who contributed to the groundbreaking research on TAF15 in FTD?
The research was a collaborative effort involving the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the Indiana University School of Medicine, and the University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology. Dr. Bernardino Ghetti, a Distinguished Professor at the IU School of Medicine, was a lead neuropathologist in the study.
More about TAF15 Protein Research
- Nature Journal Article – The original research paper published in Nature.
- Indiana University School of Medicine – Information about the institution involved in the research.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) – Details on FTD and related neurodegenerative research.
- Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology – Information about one of the collaborating research institutions.
- University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology – Details on another collaborating institution.
- Neurodegenerative Diseases – Information on neurodegenerative diseases from the National Institute on Aging.