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Molecular Genetics Department UT Southwestern
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Current Research of Dr. Joachim Herz lab
Alzheimer's disease and atherosclerosis are progressive degenerative syndromes that together afflict more than 50% of the population in Western societies. Their prevalence and socioeconomic impact is
Multivalent Control of HMG-CoA Reuductase
steadily increasing along with average life expectancy.

Our work has identified several fundamental molecular mechanisms that are common to both of these superficially unrelated diseases. They are mediated by a class of ancient and evolutionarily highly conserved cell surface receptors known as the LDL receptor gene family.

The core of this family consists of seven structurally closely related multifunctional receptors that share partly overlapping roles in such diverse biological processes as receptor-mediated endocytosis, regulation of extracellular protease activity, hormone transport, and intercellular signaling. The range of physiological functions in which the receptors are involved includes lipid metabolism, neuronal migration during brain development, neurotransmission, axonal transport, vitamin metabolism, and the control of cellular proliferation. All members of the family are also receptors for Apolipoprotein E (ApoE), a major risk factor gene for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. One of our goals is to understand how the interaction of ApoE and other physiological ligands with its receptors affects the cell biology of the neuron.

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