Author(s): Lindholm P, Saarma M
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Abstract Current therapeutic interventions for neurodegenerative diseases alleviate only disease symptoms, while treatments that could stop or reverse actual degenerative processes are not available. Parkinson's disease (PD) is a movement disorder with characteristic degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain. Few neurotrophic factors (NTFs) that promote survival, maintenance, and differentiation of affected brain neurons are considered as potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Thus, it is important to search and study new NTFs that could also be used in therapy. In this review, we discuss novel evolutionary conserved family of NTFs consisting of two members in the vertebrates, cerebral dopamine neurotrophic factor (CDNF) and mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor (MANF). Invertebrates, including Drosophila and Caenorhabditis have a single protein homologous to vertebrate CDNF/MANF. Characteristic feature of these proteins is eight structurally conserved cysteine residues, which determine the protein fold. The crystal structure analysis revealed that CDNF and MANF consist of two domains; an amino-terminal saposin-like domain that may interact with lipids or membranes, and a presumably unfolded carboxy-terminal domain that may protect cells against endoplasmic reticulum stress. CDNF and MANF protect midbrain dopaminergic neurons and restore motor function in 6-hydroxydopamine rat model of PD in vivo. In line, Drosophila MANF is needed for the maintenance of dopaminergic neurites and dopamine levels in the fly, suggesting that the function of CDNF/MANF proteins is evolutionary conserved. Future studies will reveal the receptors and mode of action of these novel factors, which are potential therapeutic proteins for the treatment of PD.
This article was published in Dev Neurobiol
and referenced in Journal of Alzheimers Disease & Parkinsonism