Disease Relevance of Mitophagy

The Translational Cell Biology of Parkinson's Disease Lab at Mayo Clinic has created a toolbox to monitor activation of the pathway and follow its flux through the autophagic-lysosomal system in cell lines, in neurons and in tissues. Using emerging, detailed biological knowledge, the lab develops novel biomarkers and small molecule therapeutics for diseases where mitochondrial, autophagic and lysosomal dysfunctions appear as a common theme.

Using cellular and mouse models as well as human postmortem brain samples, Dr. Springer's research team is analyzing the relevance of PINK1- and PRKN (Parkin)-directed mitophagy in stress conditions, aging and disease. The lab has recently developed novel antibodies that specifically detect phosphorylated ubiquitin, which serves as a selective, quantitative label of damaged mitochondria. Phosphorylated ubiquitin levels increase upon pathophysiologically relevant mitochondrial stress or lysosomal blockade and are elevated in brain samples from aged and diseased individuals. The research team is working to optimize biomarker assays on a Meso Scale Discovery platform to analyze biofluids of people with PD, including blood and cerebrospinal fluid.

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