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2007 Grant - Moss
Characterization of Membrane Compositions That Promote Beta-Amyloid Assembly
Melissa Ann Moss, Ph.D.
University of South Carolina Research Foundation
Columbia, South Carolina
2007 New Investigator Research Grant
The protein fragment beta-amyloid may be a key factor in damaging cell-to-cell communication and causing the loss of brain cells in Alzheimer's disease. Beta-amyloid molecules assemble themselves into structures that have toxic properties. Studies have shown that these aggregated forms of beta-amyloid tend to appear in regions of the brain in which the composition of cell membranes are altered.
These changes in cell membranes include a loss of omega-3 fatty acids and a change in the electrochemical properties of the membrane. Melissa Ann Moss, Ph.D., and colleagues have observed that toxic assemblies of beta-amyloid tend to interact more with lipids in these altered membranes than they do with lipids in normal membranes. They have hypothesized that these altered cell membranes promote the assembly of toxic beta-amyloid aggregates.
For this proposed grant, Dr. Moss and colleagues will test their hypothesis using engineered nerve cells and an instrument called a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM). The nerve cells will be engineered to have varying properties similar to those observed in Alzheimer's disease, and the QCM will enable investigators to measure beta-amyloid accumulation around the differently engineered membranes. The team will also analyze how beta-amyloid accumulation may lead to the death of these cells.
Results of Dr. Moss's study may provide a better understanding of how changes in cellular membrane composition play a role in Alzheimer's disease. The study could also lay the foundation for exploring novel treatments.