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Research Grants - 2006


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Research Grants 2006


To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.

2006 Grant - Zheng

Regulation of the High-Affinity Choline Transporter by APP

Hui Zheng, Ph.D.
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas

2006 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant

The beta-amyloid protein fragment is a key suspect in Alzheimer pathology. It is derived from the cutting of a larger protein, amyloid precursor protein (APP). APP is found in the brain under normal conditions, but its function is not known.

When a nerve cell releases a neurotransmitter, or messenger chemical, it recovers rapidly by transporting the neurotransmitter back into the cell and re-using it. This critical function is performed by a group of proteins known as high-affinity transporters. Hui Zheng, Ph.D., and colleagues have found that APP is important for localizing the transporter for a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine to the part of the nerve cell where it is needed.

It has long been known that nerve cells secreting acetylcholine are especially vulnerable to the Alzheimer's disease process. Indeed, current treatments for the disease involve drugs that partially shore up the acetylcholine system in the brain. Dr. Zheng and colleagues found that mice lacking APP have deficiencies in the function of nerve cells, especially those nerve cells using acetylcholine. They suspect this deficiency may arise from the inability of the nerve cell to place the acetylcholine transporter in the correct location.

The researchers plan to continue their studies of the function of APP and how it controls the localization and function of the acetylcholine high-affinity transporter. These studies may lead to the development of therapies that are able to increase the function of the transporter and that possibly alleviate some of the deficiencies of nerve cell function seen in people with Alzheimer's.