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NewsSpecifying Enzymes to Introduce Autophagy Switches (Faculty of Science, Professor Takashi Ushimaru Research Group)


 Autophagy, which was the topic for which Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi received the Nobel Prize, holds the key to control cell aging by eliminating unwanted substances within cells. Activating cell autophagy promises to have therapeutic value for diseases that include neurodegenerative disorders. However, many questions remain regarding how autophagy is controlled within cells.

 Professor Takashi Ushimaru's research group in the Shizuoka University Faculty of Science has made progress on research focused on yeast phosphotase to uncover mechanisms for inducing autophagy. The research was performed using the same budding yeast that Professor Ohsumi used. The research determined that two types of PP2A isoforms of phosphotase are necessary to actively trigger autophagy. In yeast cells lacking PP2A genes, the mechanism for triggering autophagy was unable to operate normally, meaning that autophagy was insufficiently induced. Because human cells contain the identical PP2A enzymes, increasing the performance of these enzymes promises to be useful in developing drugs that can efficiently trigger autophagy.

 The results of this study were published in the online science magazine, PLOS ONE—published by the American organization, The Public Library of Science ONE—dated 4 AM JST (2 PM EST) on Thursday, December 15, 2016.


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