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Biology Articles » Genetics » Gene may 'bypass' disease-linked mitochondrial defects, fly study suggests
May 06, 2009 -- By lending them a gene normally reserved for other classes of animals,
researchers have shown they can rescue flies from their
Parkinson's-like symptoms, including movement defects and excess free
radicals produced in power-generating cellular components called
mitochondria. The gene swap also protects healthy flies' mitochondria,
and to a large extent the flies themselves, from the damaging effects
of cyanide and other toxins, the team reports in the May issue of Cell
Metabolism, a Cell Press publication.
key gene (single-subunit alternative oxidase or AOX) in essence acts as
a bypass for blockages in the so-called oxidative phosphorylation
(OXPHOS) cytochrome chain in mitochondria. Howard Jacobs, who led the
study at the University of Tampere in Finland, likens that chain to a
series of waterfalls in a hydroelectric power station. Only, in the
case of mitochondria, it is electrons that flow to release energy that
is captured in molecular form.
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