Authors: Ebony Torrington, Future Science Group
Three new papers presented at SfN Neuroscience 2018 (3–7 November, San Diego, CA, USA), have found that extracellular vesicles transported between cells have long-term and wide-ranging effects in the body, and some extracellular vesicles released from the brain into the blood could also provide a method of diagnosis for neurodegenerative diseases (ND) such as Parkinson’s disease.
Jason Shepherd, senior author at the University of Utah (UT) and colleagues have found the neurological Arc protein to express retrovirus-like properties, such as accumulation into capsids that are released extracellularly and deliver RNA and proteins to nearby cells.
ND’s such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are characterized by the release of toxic proteins in extracellular vesicles. Therefore, the Arc protein may be able to provide insight into molecular mechanisms of ND’s.
“These findings reveal that even complex brain functions, such as memory, may have arisen from the evolution of ancient genetic elements that resemble retroviruses,” explains Shepherd.