CHAPTER 15: Molecular Chaperones as Potential Therapeutic Targets for Neurological Disorders
Published:23 Oct 2013
Many neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Polyglutamine disorders are characterized by conformational change in proteins that result in misfolding, aggregation and accumulation of amyloid fibrils. These misfolded species result in toxicity in cells and ultimately lead to the death of specific neuronal populations. The cellular pathways involved in these neurological disorders are still unclear but a large body of evidence suggests that molecular chaperones, regulators of cellular protein quality control, may play a critical role in neurodegeneration. Indeed in patient post-mortem brain, chaperones are found in the hallmark neuronal inclusions. Molecular chaperones are able to inhibit the aggregation of denatured proteins and facilitate refolding of different disease-causing proteins. Experimental approaches in animal and cellular models have shown prevention of protein misfolding and facilitation of clearance mechanisms via up-regulation of molecular chaperones. Therefore manipulating the molecular chaperone system may be a successful strategy to counter the conformational changes occurring in protein misfolding diseases and may offer new therapeutic promise. Here we review the evidence for the involvement of various molecular chaperones in several neurodegenerative disorders and examine the current research investigating the role of the chaperones as novel targets for therapy of these devastating diseases.