The structural and molecular details of the neurodegenerative disease-associated protein Ataxin-1 was revealed by a research team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Mutations in Ataxin-1 cause the neurological disease, Spinocerebella Ataxia Type 1 (SCA1), which is characterized by a loss of muscular coordination and balance (ataxia), as is seen in Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's diseases.
SCA1-causing mutations in the ATAXIN1 gene alter the length of a glutamine stretch in the Ataxin-1 protein. The research team provides the first structural insight into the complex formation of ATAXIN-1 with its binding partner, Capicua (CIC). The team, led by Professor Ji-Joon Song from the Department of Biological Sciences at KAIST, solved the structure of Ataxin-1 and CIC complex in atomic level revealing molecular details of the interaction between Ataxin-1 and CIC.
Professor Song explained his recent research work, "We are able to see the intricate process of complex formation and reconfiguration of the two proteins when they interact with each other. Our work, we expect, will provide a new therapeutic target to modulate SCA1 neurodegenerative disease."
Understanding structural and molecular details of proteins at the atomic level will help researchers to track the molecular pathogenesis of the disease and, ultimately, design targeted therapies or treatments for patients, rather than just relieving the symptoms of diseases.