Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre (LWENC)

The new Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre (LWENC) has opened for clinical studies and trials


Audioslide presentation on Claudia Manzoni's paper examining how fibroblasts with LRRK2 mutations react to starvation conditions and the possible deficits that they have in autophagy.

LRRK2 and autophagy in fibroblasts

In this paper Claudia Manzoni studies how fibroblast cells from people with Parkinson’s disease caused by mutations in LRRK2 react to starvation. Although the changes are quite subtle, there are differences between the way that fibroblasts that contain mutant LRRK2 respond to being starved – suggesting that there may be changes in the way that these cells regulate a key process called autophagy (a term which comes from the greek meaning to eat yourself, and is one of the ways that cells get rid of waste and recycle proteins and organellles).

Drosophila fly model - University of Sheffield

Genetic mutations linked to Parkinson's disease

Research led by consortium researchers Dr Helene Plun-Favreau (UCL Institute of Neurology) and Dr Alex Whitworth (University of Sheffield), and collaborator Dr Heike Laman (University of Cambridge), has discovered how genetic mutations linked to Parkinson’s disease might play a key role in the death of brain cells, potentially paving the way for the development of more effective drug treatments. In the new study, published in Nature Neuroscience, the team of cross-institutional researchers showed how defects in the Parkinson’s gene Fbxo7 cause problems with mitophagy. More...


LRRK2 and autophagy

Mutations in LRRK2 are the most common genetic cause of Parkinson’s disease. Here, Claudia Manzoni talks about her research (funded by the Rosetrees Trust and the Michael J. Fox Foundation) into what LRRK2 might be doing within the cell: Parkinson’s disease is a brain illness that afflicts 1 in 500 people in the UK. High profile patients, such as the actor Michael J Fox, the boxer Muhammad Ali and the late Pope John Paul II, have raised public awareness of Parkinson’s and its devastating impact. More...

GBA neurons

GBA and mitochondria

Dr Laura Osellame tells us about her recent paper in Cell Metabolism about Mitochondrial dysfunction linked to loss of an enzyme called GBA: Gaucher Disease (GD) is a rare inherited disease, belonging to the family of lysosomal storage disorders. Mutations in the gene glucocerebrosidase (GBA) are responsible for the disease and can increase susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease (PD). Genetic studies undertaken at UCL and other hospitals around the world suggest that mutations in GBA are the most common genetic risk factor currently known for PD. More...

Cell Physiology Group

We are fascinated by the intimate dialogue between mitochondrial biology and cell signaling systems. How do cell signaling pathways impact on and regulate mitochondrial physiology? How do subtle changes in mitochondrial function affect the physiology of the cell? How are mitochondria in different cell types specialized to match the specialized differentiated function of the cells they inhabit? We are especially concerned to characterise the contributions of mitochondrial dysfunction to cell injury and cell death - by necrosis or apoptosis – that takes place in situations such as ischaemia, reperfusion injury and in the neurotoxicity mediated by glutamate or beta-amyloid. Another core theme again involving a complex dialogue is the mitochondrion as both a site and a target of oxidative stress and damage in disease models. 

Most of our work involves live cell fluorescence microscopy and imaging, including confocal, multiphoton and fast read-out cooled CCD instruments. All approaches have been adapted to allow the simultaneous or near simultaneous measurement of multiple variables - cytosolic calcium and mitochondrial potential, cytosolic calcium and mitochondrial calcium, NADH autofluorescence and cytosolic calcium or cytosolic magnesium and so on. We have a broad general interest in functional cellular imaging and in the development of new approaches to imaging aspects of cell function using targeted probes, GFP tagged proteins, FRET, FLIM and so on.

Interests of the lab extend through a wide range of biological problems in which mitochondria are involved - in ischaemia reperfusion injury in the heart, in the role of mitochondrial function in fertility in the mammalian egg (with John Carroll), in mitochondrial function and septic shock syndrome in liver, kidney and muscle, in mitochondrial biogenesis following exercise and training in muscle, and in mitochondrial dysfunction in beta cells in diabetes. This rather unusual breadth has had a positive influence on all our work, as resolving problems in one system invariably seems to illuminate problems with others. We have been astonished at the frequency with which a small number of basic principles are recapitulated in a wide and disparate array of models.

There is mounting evidence that PD involves mitochondrial dysfunction, both a bioenergetic deficit especially affecting complex I and a defect in quality control, with defects in autophagy. We are interested to understand the links between these, the possible roles of mitochondrial biogenesis as a protective strategy. We are also interested in the possible roles of lysosomes as a part of the autophagic machinery, as there are strong associations between lysosomal storage diseases and PD. This latter project involves collaborations with Sandip Patel and Tony Schapira (RFH).

mito potential changes with Abeta

In this movie, mitochondrial membrane potential was measured in a field of living astrocytes in culture using confocal microscopy. Cells were loaded with rhodamine 123 and potential measured as dequench (an increase in signal means mitochondrial depolarisation). Amyloid β 1-42 was applied shortly after the start of the time series. After a delay, we see a gradual progressive depolarisation of mitochondria on which are superimposed large transient depolarisations that may recover completely.

Lab website

Page last modified on 27 jan 11 15:09