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Synuclein alpha (SNCA) protein UPSC NOTE

 Why in news

  • A recent study from Swasti Raychaudhuri’s lab at the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, published in the Journal of Cell Science, reported two ways in which SNCA is present as aggregates in cells: one that interferes with the structural integrity of cells’ nuclei and another that allows the cell to degrade misfolded proteins. 

  • The researchers found that the former are related to diseased states while the latter is important for healthy cells.

  • As such, the study highlights the importance of striking a balance between these two SNCA populations to manage Parkinson’s disease.

Synuclein alpha (SNCA) protein

  • Synuclein alpha (SNCA) is a mysterious protein

  • It’s present in healthy cells but we don’t know what it does there.

  • It is notorious for its involvement in age-related neurodegenerative diseases

  • Twenty-seven years ago, researchers first associated SNCA with Parkinson’s disease

  • People with this disease lose neurons that communicate with each other using dopamine as a neurotransmitter in a part of their brains.

  • These dopaminergic neurons have been found to contain aggregated masses of proteins called Lewy bodies. 

  • Most of these proteins are SNCA.

  • Since then, researchers have reported SNCA in similar aggregates in the brains of people with other neurodegenerative diseases as well

  • But its presence is most prominent in brains with Parkinson’s.

  • SNCA is abundant in neurons, especially in dopaminergic neurons

  • It is found near the nuclei of these cells and at the junctions between two neurons

  • It’s capable of misfolding as well as forming filamentous structures

  • So unlike most other proteins, which take up predictable three-dimensional structures, SNCA can fold in multiple ways. 

  • Misfolded proteins don’t function correctly.

  • But beyond these observations, researchers don’t understand the dynamics of the formation of these aggregates and how exactly they affect neurons.


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Synuclein alpha (SNCA) protein UPSC NOTE
Synuclein alpha (SNCA) protein UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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