Proteins Change Shape, Cause Alzheimer’s
New research shows that the structure of a protein that causes Alzheimer’s disease—called amyloid beta—changes to allow it to become toxic to brain cells. Scientists have found that the protein’s internal shape changes into a long, flat structure called a beta sheet.
According to researchers, the amyloid beta structure able to penetrate cells is similar to a layer cake, with components that are stacked upon each other. First, these proteins bind to the cell. Then, they are taken into the cell, where they cause damage and cell death that leads to Alzheimer’s.
Scientists don’t know whether the amyloid beta is toxic before entering the cell, or becomes toxic once inside. Learning more about the structure of these proteins may help researchers figure out a way to interrupt the process, possibly preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
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