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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.


A cytosolic iron chaperone that delivers iron to ferritin

Ferritins are the main iron storage proteins found in animals, plants, and bacteria. The capacity to store iron in ferritin is essential for life in mammals, but the mechanism by which cytosolic iron is delivered to ferritin is unknown. Human ferritins expressed in yeast contain little iron. Human poly (rC)-binding protein 1 (PCBP1) increased the amount of iron loaded into ferritin when expressed in yeast. PCBP1 bound to ferritin in vivo and bound iron and facilitated iron loading into ferritin in vitro. Depletion of PCBP1 in human cells inhibited ferritin iron loading and increased cytosolic iron pools. Thus, PCBP1 can function as a cytosolic iron chaperone in the delivery of iron to ferritin.

Read More: A cytosolic iron chaperone that delivers iron to ferritin

Lateral-flow immunoassay for the frataxin protein in Friedreich's ataxia patients and carriers

Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) is an inherited neurodegenerative disease caused by reduction in levels of the mitochondrial protein frataxin. Currently there are no simple, reliable methods to accurately measure the concentrations of frataxin protein. We designed a lateral-flow immunoassay that quantifies frataxin protein levels in a variety of sample materials. Using recombinant frataxin we evaluated the accuracy and reproducibility of the assay. The assay measured recombinant human frataxin concentrations between 40 and 4000 pg/test or approximately 0.1 – 10 nM of sample. The intra and inter-assay error was < 10% throughout the working range. To evaluate clinical utility of the assay we used genetically defined lymphoblastoid cells derived from FA patients, FA carriers and controls.

Read More: Lateral-flow immunoassay for the frataxin protein in Friedreich's ataxia patients and carriers

Novel, complex interruptions of the GAA repeat in small, expanded alleles of two affected siblings with late-onset Friedreich ataxia

Friedreich ataxia (FA) is an autosomal recessive disorder associated with expanded GAA repeats in intron 1 of the FRDA gene. Two siblings presented with a mild form of FA at >60 years of age. Both had a large expansion (>600 repeats) and a small expansion (120 repeats) by long-range PCR. Sequence analysis of the small allele revealed multiple, complex interruptions in the GAA repeat. These 2 patients presented later than predicted from their allele size alone, when compared with a large cohort of FA patients.

Read More: Novel, complex interruptions of the GAA repeat in small, expanded alleles of two affected siblings ...

Ancestral roles of eukaryotic frataxin

Mitochondrial frataxin function and heterologous expression of hydrogenosomal Trichomonas homologues in trypanosomes

Frataxin is a small conserved mitochondrial protein; in humans, mutations affecting frataxin expression or function result in Friedreich's ataxia. Much of the current understanding of frataxin function comes from informative studies with yeast models, but considerable debates remain with regard to the primary functions of this ubiquitous protein. We exploit the tractable reverse genetics of Trypanosoma brucei in order to specifically consider the importance of frataxin in an early branching lineage. Using inducible RNAi, we show that frataxin is essential in T. brucei and that its loss results in reduced activity of the marker Fe-S cluster-containing enzyme aconitase in both the mitochondrion and cytosol.

Read More: Ancestral roles of eukaryotic frataxin

Protection against hydrogen peroxide-mediated cytotoxicity in Friedreich's ataxia fibroblasts using novel iron chelators of the 2-pyridylcarboxaldehyde isonicotinoyl hydrazone class

Iron-loading diseases remain an important problem because of the toxicity of iron-catalyzed redox reactions. Iron loading occurs in the mitochondria of Friedreich's ataxia (FA) patients and may play a role in its pathogenesis. This suggests that iron chelation therapy could be useful. We developed previously the lipophilic iron chelators known as the 2-pyridylcarboxaldehyde isonicotinoyl hydrazone (PCIH) ligands and identified 2-pyridylcarboxaldehyde 2-thiophenecarboxyl hydrazone (PCTH) as the most promising analog. Hence, this study assessed the efficacy of PCTH and other PCIH analogs compared with various chelators, including deferiprone and desferrioxamine (DFO). Age- and sex-matched control and FA fibroblasts were preincubated with iron chelators and subsequently challenged with 50 microM H2O2 for up to 24 h. The current study demonstrates an interesting structure-activity relationship among the closely related PCIH series of ligands, with only PCTH being highly effective at preventing H2O2-induced cytotoxicity.

Read More: Protection against hydrogen peroxide-mediated cytotoxicity in Friedreich's ataxia

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