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FARA Funded Research

Your generous support has funded all the research listed below.


For more information on FARA-funded research & scientists, please visit FARA Supported Research, Active Clinical Trials and the Featured Scientist.

Src inhibitors modulate frataxin protein levels

Defective expression of frataxin is responsible for the inherited, progressive degenerative disease Friedreich's Ataxia (FRDA). There is currently no effective approved treatment for FRDA and patients die prematurely. Defective frataxin expression causes critical metabolic changes, including redox imbalance and ATP deficiency. As these alterations are known to regulate the tyrosine kinase Src, we investigated whether Src might in turn affect frataxin expression. We found that frataxin can be phosphorylated by Src.

 

Read More: Src inhibitors modulate frataxin protein levels.

 

Delivery of human frataxin genomic DNA locus creates different frataxin isoforms

Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) is the most common form of hereditary ataxia caused by recessive mutations in the FXN gene. Recent results have indicated the presence of different frataxin isoforms due to alternative gene expression mechanisms. Our previous studies demonstrated the advantages of using high-capacity herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) amplicon vectors containing the entire FXN genomic locus (iBAC-FXN) as a gene-delivery vehicle capable of ensuring physiologically-regulated and long-term persistence.

Read More: Delivery of the 135kb human frataxin genomic DNA locus gives rise to different frataxin isoforms.

 

An open-label trial in Friedreich ataxia suggests clinical benefit with high-dose resveratrol, without effect on frataxin levels

Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is due to a triplet repeat expansion in FXN, resulting in deficiency of the mitochondrial protein frataxin. Resveratrol is a naturally occurring polyphenol, identified to increase frataxin expression in cellular and mouse models of FRDA and has anti-oxidant properties. This open-label, non-randomized trial evaluated the effect of two different doses of resveratrol on peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) frataxin levels over a 12-week period in individuals with FRDA. Secondary outcome measures included PMBC FXN mRNA, oxidative stress markers, and clinical measures of disease severity. 

Read More: An open-label trial in Friedreich ataxia suggests clinical benefit with high-dose resveratrol, without effect on frataxin levels

Friedreich's ataxia - a case of aberrant transcription termination?

Reduced expression of the mitochondrial protein Frataxin (FXN) is the underlying cause of Friedreich's ataxia. We propose a model of premature termination of FXN transcription induced by pathogenic expanded GAA repeats that links R-loop structures, antisense transcription, and heterochromatin formation as a novel mechanism of transcriptional repression in Friedreich's ataxia.

Read More: Friedreich's ataxia - a case of aberrant transcription termination?

Expanded GAA repeats impair FXN gene expression and reposition the FXN locus to the nuclear lamina in single cells

Abnormally expanded DNA repeats are associated with several neurodegenerative diseases. In Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA), expanded GAA repeats in intron 1 of the frataxin gene (FXN) reduce FXN mRNA levels in averaged cell samples through a poorly understood mechanism. By visualizing FXN expression and nuclear localization in single cells, we show that GAA-expanded repeats decrease the number of FXN mRNA molecules, slow transcription, and increase FXN localization at the nuclear lamina (NL). Restoring histone acetylation reverses NL positioning. Expanded GAA-FXN loci in FRDA patient cells show increased NL localization with increased silencing of alleles and reduced transcription from alleles positioned peripherally. 

Read More: Expanded GAA repeats impair FXN gene expression and reposition the FXN locus to the nuclear lamina in single cells

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