1: J Biol Chem. 2008 Sep 9. [Epub ahead of print]

Gakh O, Smith Iv DY, Isaya G.

Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN 55905.

Defects in frataxin result in Friedreich ataxia, a genetic disease characterized by early onset of neurodegeneration, cardiomyopathy and diabetes. Frataxin is a conserved mitochondrial protein that controls iron needed for iron-sulfur cluster assembly and heme synthesis and also detoxifies excess iron. Studies in vitro have shown that either monomeric or oligomeric frataxin delivers iron to other proteins, while ferritin-like frataxin particles convert redox-active iron to an inert mineral. We have investigated how these different forms of frataxin are regulated in vivo. In S. cerevisiae, only monomeric yeast frataxin (Yfh1) was detected in unstressed cells when mitochondrial iron uptake was maintained at a steady, low-nanomolar level. Increments in mitochondrial iron uptake induced stepwise assembly of Yfh1 species ranging from trimer to >24-mer, independent of interactions between Yfh1 and its major iron-binding partners, Isu1/Nfs1 or aconitase. The rate-limiting step in Yfh1 assembly was a structural transition that preceded conversion of monomer to trimer. This step was induced, independently or synergistically, by mitochondrial iron increments, overexpression of wild type Yfh1 monomer, mutations that stabilize Yfh1 trimer or heat stress. Faster assembly kinetics correlated with reduced oxidative damage and higher levels of aconitase activity, respiratory capacity, and cell survival. However, deregulation of Yfh1 assembly resulted in Yfh1 aggregation, aconitase sequestration and mitochondrial DNA depletion. The data suggest that Yfh1 assembly responds to dynamic changes in mitochondrial iron uptake or stress exposure in a highly controlled fashion, and that this may enable frataxin to simultaneously promote respiratory function and stress tolerance.

PMID: 18784075 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

The legacy of Marie Schlau: literature to help cure Friedreich's Ataxia

If you feel like reading an unputdownable novel while collaborating with a just and solidary cause, "The Legacy of Marie Schlau" is your book! 100% of all funds raised will be dedicated to medical research to find a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia, a neurodegenerative disease that affects mostly young people, shortening their life expectancy and confining them to a wheelchair.

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Research projects currently being financed by BabelFAmily

Currently, BabelFAmily is financing two promising research projects aimed at finding a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia. Whenever you make a donation to us or purchase a copy of "The legacy of Marie Schlau", this is where all funds raised will be devoted to:

1) Gene Therapy for Friedreich's Ataxia research project:

The project is the result of an initiative of Spanish people affected by this rare disease who are grouped in GENEFA in collaboration with the Spanish Federation of Ataxias and the BabelFAmily. The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), one of the main patients’ associations in the United States now joins the endeavour.

2) Frataxin delivery research project:
The associations of patients and families Babel Family and the Asociación Granadina de la Ataxia de Friedreich (ASOGAF) channel 80,000 euros of their donations (50% from each organisation) into a new 18-month project at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). The project specifically aims to complete a step necessary in order to move towards a future frataxin replacement therapy for the brain, where the reduction of this protein causes the most damage in patients with Friedreich’s Ataxia.

The study is headed by Ernest Giralt, head of the Peptides and Proteins Lab, who has many years of experience and is a recognised expert in peptide chemistry and new systems of through which to delivery drugs to the brain, such as peptide shuttles—molecules that have the capacity to carry the drug across the barrier that surrounds and protects the brain. Since the lab started its relation with these patients’ associations in 2013*, it has been developing another two projects into Friedrich’s Ataxia.



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