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Research in yeast suggests death proteins could also have protective role

July 12, 2010

Dr. Lynn Megeney and his group have published a paper in PNAS that could substantially change our thinking about how cells live, die and work together to form higher life. The research suggests that a group of proteins called caspases, which have traditionally been associated with programmed cell death, may actually play a crucial role in keeping cells alive and healthy. Dr. Megeney and former graduate student Dr. Robin Lee found that caspase-like proteins help keep yeast cells healthy by clearing away protein aggregates that build up inside the cell. The research could have important implications for human health because similar protein aggregates are associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. This paper builds on Dr. Megeney’s previous research on caspases in stem cells.