Jason Gandhi, Anthony C. Antonelli, Adil Afridi, Sohrab Vatsia, Gunjan Joshi, Victor Romanov, Ian V.J. Murray, Sardar Ali Khan
February 12, 2019
Protein folding is a complex, multisystem process characterized by heavy molecular and cellular footprints. Chaperone machinery enables proper protein folding and stable conformation. Other pathways concomitant with the protein folding process include transcription, translation, post-translational modifications, degradation through the ubiquitin-proteasome system, and autophagy. As such, the folding process can go awry in several different ways. The pathogenic basis behind most neurodegenerative diseases is that the disruption of protein homeostasis (i.e. proteostasis) at any level will eventually lead to protein misfolding. Misfolded proteins often aggregate and accumulate to trigger neurotoxicity through cellular stress pathways and consequently cause neurodegenerative diseases. The manifestation of a disease is usually dependent on the specific brain region that the neurotoxicity affects. Neurodegenerative diseases are age-associated, and their incidence is expected to rise as humans continue to live longer and pursue a greater life expectancy. We presently review the sequelae of protein misfolding and aggregation, as well as the role of these phenomena in several neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, and spinocerebellar ataxia. Strategies for treatment and therapy are also conferred with respect to impairing, inhibiting, or reversing protein misfolding.