Our group want to understand how neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and multiple systems atrophy develop, progress, and elicit their many symptoms.
We centre our studies on how the protein alpha-synuclein contributes to these processes because the spread of alpha-synuclein aggregate-pathology in the tissue plays a central role for these diseases. This is investigated in studies of alpha-synuclein aggregates in vitro, in cell models, cultures brain slices, live animals and human tissue and involves development of new tools and models.
Our aims are: 1) Decipher how cells regulate their pools of alpha-synuclein species because elevated levels represents a risk factor for disease with projects both at the regulation of alpha-synuclein transcription and the catabolic pathways for normal and abnormal alpha-synuclein species. 2) Understand how different folding strains of alpha-synuclein aggregates develop and cells respond to such aggregated alpha-synuclein species with respect to cytotoxic and protective mechanisms that can be targeted by therapy. 3) Understand how cells suffering from development of intracellular alpha-synuclein aggregates affects their surrounding tissue and connected neurons contributing to spreading of pathology and development of neurological/psychiatric symptoms.
Currently specific projects focuses on i) alpha-synucleins role in calcium regulation with a focus on calcium pumps in the endoplasmic reticulum and plasma membrane, ii) signalling pathways regulating transcription of alpha-synuclein and degradation of its native and aggregated species, iii) characterization of oligomeric and fibrillar alpha-synuclein aggregates, iv) development and application of proximity ligation assays to uncover novel alpha-synuclein pathology in human brain tissue, v) in vivo mouse studies focussing on modelling and mechanisms involved in disease progression and how they can be inhibited pharmacologically.
The Jensen group currently has projects available for Master and PhD students. Please contact Group Leader Poul Henning Jensen directly, if interested.