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How salt stress in plants can help against Alzheimer's

Plants can be very resistant. For example, a newly discovered protein helps better cope with saline soils. In studying this protective effect, an international research group from Leibniz's molecular pharmacology research institute found a common ground with a human protein – a possible new research-oriented approach to Alzheimer's research.

Berlin – Proteins are essential building blocks of living tissue – whether in plants or animals, they have a variety of functions and are very different from structure and size. Many proteins have not been sufficiently studied for their function and structure. One of them was the focus of their scientific work in 2015 at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP) by Anne Endler and Christopher Kesten from the research group Staffan Persson: the protein CC1

. CC1 is found in plants under the cell membrane and on microtubules with which it interacts with cellulose production. Microtubules are the tubular protein and form the "route network" of the cell: they act as "cellular highways" for the transport of proteins and cellular stability.

Investigating plants in salt stress

MPI-MP researchers discovered that CC1 is important for the plants' reaction to salt stress. Genetically engineered plants without the protein appear to develop normally but are added to a nutrient medium with increased salt content inhibited growth. This is because CC1 is central to the microtubule's stability.

"If the cell in a plant has an elevated salt content, the microtubule disappears under the membrane within two hours, but returns after another six hours. Without CC1, the microtubule decreases faster and rebuilds, but is no longer as stable, Kesten explains, now researchers at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich.

The structural biologists around Arndt Wallmann from the research group Hartmut Oschkinat investigated CC1 closer. He and the FMP team used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to analyze the structure and dynamics of the molecules. of which the cytosolic extruder, which sits directly beneath the cell membrane, can interact with microtubules, Using the NMR analysis Wallmann could describe the molecular properties of the protein in more detail. and is thus very dynamic. This can be beneficial in stressful situations, for example, when salt enters the cell, "explains the biologist.

Protein strengthens microtubular network

The researchers found that CC1 binds microtubules with multiple regions simultaneously, ie different sites of the protein simultaneously, and Thus, the protein behaves dynamically and can move along microtubules In order to further investigate the effects of CC1, researchers introduced mutations into the protein that interfere with microtubular interaction. growth even lower than if CC1 was completely absent, as the researchers reported. This is probably due to strong dysregulation of the microtubule by mutant CC1.


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