Dr. James Clemens, an assistant professor of biochemistry at Purdue University, recently determined the function of the ALS-linked protein VAPB. In a study that was published in the November 28th issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, Dr. Clemens investigated VAPB loss-of-function in Drosophila using a mutant version of the fly ortholog of VAPB, Vap-33. He found that Vap-33 is essential for the trafficking of the cell surface receptor Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam) to axons, and hypothesized that Vap-33 may also be responsible for trafficking other specific proteins to axons. Extrapolating from these findings, VAPB loss-of-function mutations may therefore significantly disrupt the trafficking of important proteins to axons, contributing to neuronal death in ALS. Read more about these research findings here.
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