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Molecular Neuroscience Group




Shining Light on Neurodegeneration


Research Summary

The Molecular Neuroscience Group focuses on investigating the molecular mechanisms that can cause neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and Huntington’s disease (HD).

Many neurodegenerative diseases are caused by aberrant forms of proteins which tend to accumulate and aggregate into shapes, which are believed to be toxic to the brain cells of affected patients. The proteins thought to cause disease are referred to as amyloid proteins. Amyloids are special in that, under circumstances not yet fully understood, they can ‘misfold’ and in the ensuing misfolded states they have a tendency to clump together, and be ‘trafficked’ from one neuron to another in the brains of patients suffering from diseases such as PD, AD, and HD. In order to study these processes in live cells/organisms we use primary neuronal cultures, neuronal cell lines, and small organisms such as the earthworm C. elegans as models of disease.

In the News

Dr Gabi Kaminski and along with other "scientists discover mechanism behind motor neurone disease". Read the article here or the full paper here.

Congratulations to Thea Zabel who was part of the winning Cambridge crew who beat Oxford to win the 73rd Women's Boat Race on the River Thames!

Dr Gabi Kaminski Schierle was interviewed by the Naked Scientists about how the "build up of Calcium could lead to Parkinson's". Read more here.

Researchers in the molecular neuroscience group have found that excess levels of calcium in brain cells may lead to the formation of toxic clusters that are the hallmark of Parkinson’s disease. Read more here.

Key words

Neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, amyloid protein, Tau, , α-synuclein, Huntingtin, prion-like propagation, microfluidics, C. elegans, intrinsic fluorescence of amyloid proteins, multi-electrode arrays.

Our sponsors

MRC, Wellcome Trust, Alzheimer's Research UK.

Key Publications

Stephens A D, Nespovitaya N, Zacharopoulou M, Kaminski C F, Phillips J J, Kaminski Schierle G S “Different Structural Conformers of Monomeric α-Synuclein Identified after Lyophilizing and Freezing” Analytical Chemistry, (2018), 90 (11), 6975-6983 doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.8b01264

Qamar SWang G, Randle S J, Simone Ruggeri F, Varela J A, Lin J Q, Phillips E C, Miyashita A, Williams D, Ströhl F, Meadows W, Ferry R, Dardov V J, Tartaglia G G, Farrer L A, Kaminski Schierle G S, Kaminski C F, Holt C E, Fraser P E, Schmitt-Ulms G, Klenerman D, Knowles T, Vendruscolo M, St George-Hyslop P, "FUS Phase Separation Is Modulated by a Molecular Chaperone and Methylation of Arginine Cation-π Interactions", Cell, (2018), 173, (3), 720-734.  | summary

Lautenschläger J, Stephens AD, Fusco G, Ströhl F, Curry N, Zacharopoulou M, Michel CH, Laine R, Nespovitaya N, Fantham M, Pinotsi D, Zago W, Fraser P, Tandon A, St George-Hyslop P, Rees E, Phillips JJ, De Simone A, Kaminski CF, Kaminski Schierle GS, "C-terminal calcium binding of α-synuclein modulates synaptic vesicle interaction", Nature Communications, (2018), 9 712.  doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03111-4  | summary

Lautenschläger J, Kaminski CF, Kaminski Schierle GS, "α-Synuclein – Regulator of Exocytosis, Endocytosis, or Both?", Trends in Cell Biology (2017).  doi:10.1016/j.tcb.2017.02.002

Pinotsi D, Michel CH, Buell AK, Laine RF, Mahou P, Dobson CM, Kaminski CF, Kaminski Schierle GS, "Nanoscopic insights into seeding mechanisms and toxicity of α-synuclein species in neurons" PNAS, (2016), 113 (14), 3815-3819. doi:10.1073/pnas.1516546113

Pinotsi D, Grisanti L, Mahou P, Gebauer R, Kaminski C, Hassanali A, Kaminski Schierle G,"Proton transfer and structure-specific fluorescence in hydrogen bond-rich protein structures", J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2016), 138 (9), 3046-3057. doi:10.1021/jacs.5b11012

Murakami T, Qamar S, Lin JQ, Kaminski Schierle GS, Rees E, Miyashita A, Costa AR, Dodd RB, Chan FTS, Michel CH, Kronenberg-Versteeg D, Li Y, Yang S-P, Wakutani Y, Meadows W, Ferry RR, Dong L, Tartaglia GG, Favrin G, Lin W-L, Dickson DW, Zhen M, Ron D, Schmitt-Ulms G, Fraser PE, Shneider NA, Holt C, Vendruscolo M, Kaminski CF, George-Hyslop P.St., "ALS/FTD mutation-induced phase transition of FUS liquid droplets and reversible hydrogels into irreversible hydrogels impairs RNP granule function", Neuron (2015). doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2015.10.030

Kaminski Schierle GS, van de Linde S, Erdelyi M, Esbjörner EK, Klein T, Rees E, Bertoncini CW, Dobson CM, Sauer M, and Kaminski CF, "In Situ Measurements of the Formation and Morphology of Intracellular ß-Amyloid Fibrils by Super-Resolution Fluorescence Imaging", J. Am. Chem. Soc., 133 (33), pp 12902–12905, (2011).  doi:10.1021/ja201651w

Complete list of publications.