The function of the glycosylating enzyme involved in muscular dystrophy, brain development and infection by arenaviruses could reveal new therapies.
Researchers at the University of Iowa have mapped the function of the enzyme LARGE and believe that the knowledge could help to screen potential muscular dystrophy therapies.
The LARGE enzyme is known to add a critical sugar chain onto an important membrane protein called dystroglycan.
This sugar chain acts like a glue allowing dystroglycan to attach to other proteins and reinforce cell membranes in tissues, including muscle and brain.
Malfunction of dystroglycan when the sugar link is absent causes muscular dystrophies and brain abnormalities.
Dystroglycan is also known to have a key role in many nerve disorders, which cause human peripheral neuropathies and the resultant pain, numbness and muscle wasting.
Peripheral neuropathies are often present in patients with diabetes and Hansen's disease - or leprosy as it is commonly known.
The condition can also be inherited and can cause limb deformities.
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