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FARAFARA Cure FA

 

Scientific News

FARA funds research progress

In this section, you will find the most recent FA research publications, many of which are funded by FARA, as well as information on upcoming conferences and symposiums. You can search for articles by date using the archive box in the right hand column. To locate FARA Funded or Supported Research, click the hyperlink in the right hand column. You may also search for specific content using key words or phrases in the search button at the top right of your screen. Please be sure to visit other key research sections of our website for information on FARA’s Grant Program and the Treatment Pipeline.

 


 

Physiologically relevant reconstitution of iron-sulfur cluster biosynthesis uncovers persulfide-processing functions of ferredoxin-2 and frataxin

Iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters are essential protein cofactors whose biosynthetic defects lead to severe diseases among which is Friedreich's ataxia caused by impaired expression of frataxin (FXN). Fe-S clusters are biosynthesized on the scaffold protein ISCU, with cysteine desulfurase NFS1 providing sulfur as persulfide and ferredoxin FDX2 supplying electrons, in a process stimulated by FXN but not clearly understood. Here, the authors report the breakdown of this process, made possible by removing a zinc ion in ISCU that hinders iron insertion and promotes non-physiological Fe-S cluster synthesis from free sulfide in vitro. By binding zinc-free ISCU, iron drives persulfide uptake from NFS1 and allows persulfide reduction into sulfide by FDX2, thereby coordinating sulfide production with its availability to generate Fe-S clusters. FXN stimulates the whole process by accelerating persulfide transfer. The authors propose that this reconstitution recapitulates physiological conditions which provides a model for Fe-S cluster biosynthesis, clarifies the roles of FDX2 and FXN and may help develop Friedreich's ataxia therapies.

Based on these new findings, FARA recently awarded grant funding to this team of researchers to begin a drug discovery project to try to identify molecules that might be able to replace or substitute for frataxin.
To view this specific Grant Award - Click HERE - then expand [Drug Discovery] and scroll down a bit.

Read the entire article HERE

Exploring iron-binding to human frataxin and to selected Friedreich ataxia mutants by means of NMR and EPR spectroscopies

The neurodegenerative disease Friedreich ataxia results from a deficiency of frataxin, a mitochondrial protein. Most patients have a GAA expansion in the first intron of both alleles of frataxin gene, whereas a minority of them are heterozygous for the expansion and contain a mutation in the other allele. Frataxin has been claimed to participate in iron homeostasis and biosynthesis of FeS clusters, however its role in both pathways is not unequivocally defined. In this work we combined different advanced spectroscopic analyses to explore the iron-binding properties of human frataxin, as isolated and at the FeS clusters assembly machinery. For the first time we used EPR spectroscopy to address this key issue providing clear evidence of the formation of a complex with a low symmetry coordination of the metal ion. By 2D NMR, we confirmed that iron can be bound in both oxidation states, a controversial issue, and, in addition, we were able to point out a transient interaction of frataxin with a N-terminal 6his-tagged variant of ISCU, the scaffold protein of the FeS clusters assembly machinery. To obtain insights on structure/function relationships relevant to understand the disease molecular mechanism(s), we extended our studies to four clinical frataxin mutants. All variants showed a moderate to strong impairment in their ability to activate the FeS cluster assembly machinery in vitro, while keeping the same iron-binding features of the wild type protein. This supports the multifunctional nature of frataxin and the complex biochemical consequences of its mutations.

Read the entire article HERE

Low frataxin mRNA expression is associated with inflammation and oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes

The mitochondrial protein frataxin is involved in iron metabolism, as well as regulation of oxidative stress. To elucidate the association of frataxin with the pathophysiology of diabetes, we evaluated the mRNA levels of frataxin in leukocytes of patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D). In addition, we investigated the relation between frataxin mRNA levels, inflammatory cytokines, and oxidative stress biomarkers. A study including 150 subjects (115 patients with T2D and 35 healthy subjects) was performed to evaluate the frataxin mRNA levels in leukocytes. We assessed the relation between frataxin and interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), total oxidation status (TOS), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), and serum iron. The frataxin mRNA levels in the T2D group were significantly lower than those in healthy subjects. It was also demonstrated that T2D patients with frataxin mRNA levels in the lowest quartile had significantly elevated levels of serum iron, TOS, and inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-α, IL-1, and IL-6, while TAC levels were significantly lower in this quartile when compared to the upper quartile. Our findings showed that T2D patients with low frataxin mRNA levels showed a high degree of inflammation and oxidative stress. It is speculated that frataxin deficiency in T2D patients can contribute to the imbalance in mitochondrial iron homeostasis leading to the acceleration of oxidative stress and inflammation.

Read the entire article HERE

REGENXBIO Announces New License Agreement with Pfizer for the Treatment of Friedreich's Ataxia Using NAV® AAV9 Vector

ROCKVILLE, Md., July 31, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- REGENXBIO Inc. (Nasdaq: RGNX), a leading clinical-stage biotechnology company seeking to improve lives through the curative potential of gene therapy based on its proprietary NAV Technology Platform, today announced it entered into a license agreement with Pfizer Inc.

Under the terms of the agreement, REGENXBIO has granted Pfizer a non-exclusive worldwide license, with rights to sublicense, to REGENXBIO's NAV AAV9 vector for the development and commercialization of gene therapies for the treatment of Friedreich's ataxia, the most common hereditary ataxia. In return for these rights, REGENXBIO will receive an upfront payment, and has the potential to receive ongoing fees, development and commercial milestone payments, and royalties on net sales of products incorporating the licensed intellectual property.

Read the entire article HERE

Molecular Mechanisms and Therapeutics for the GAA·TTC Expansion Disease Friedreich Ataxia

Friedreich ataxia (FA), the most common inherited ataxia, is caused by transcriptional silencing of the nuclear FXN gene, encoding the essential mitochondrial protein frataxin. Currently, there is no approved therapy for this fatal disorder. Gene silencing in FA is due to hyperexpansion of the triplet repeat sequence GAA·TTC in the first intron of the FXN gene, which results in chromatin histone modifications consistent with heterochromatin formation. Frataxin is involved in mitochondrial iron homeostasis and the assembly and transfer of iron-sulfur clusters to various mitochondrial enzymes and components of the electron transport chain. Frataxin insufficiency leads to progressive spinocerebellar neurodegeneration, causing symptoms of gait and limb ataxia, slurred speech, muscle weakness, sensory loss, and cardiomyopathy in many patients that may cause death in early adulthood. Numerous approaches are being taken to find a treatment for FA, including excision or correction of the repeats by genome engineering methods, gene activation with small molecules or artificial transcription factors, delivery of frataxin to affected cells by protein replacement therapy, gene therapy, or small molecules to increase frataxin protein levels, and therapies aimed at countering the cellular consequences of reduced frataxin. This review will summarize the mechanisms involved in repeat-mediated gene silencing and recent efforts aimed at development of therapeutics.

Read the entire article HERE

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