M. Laura Feltri, MD, professor of biochemistry and neurology, is leading research to determine whether a new family of molecules prevents demyelination and nerve degeneration in patients with peripheral nerve diseases. The research builds on her 2014 finding that the novel molecules, called prohibitins, are required for nerves to form correctly and remain healthy.
Feltri and fellow researchers identified the prohibitins in 2014 using a newly discovered way to study the interface where cells in the myelination process connect. “To identify them, we used a innovative cell chamber assay to isolate the proteins that are located in the cellular part of Schwann cells that are used to contact neurons,” she explains.
Prohibitins are conserved transmembrane proteins found in mitochondria, plasma membranes and nuclei. They function as signaling adaptors and chaperones, and they are involved in adhesion, signaling and senescence.
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