USC Study Finds New Microprotein Connected to Alzheimer’s Risk

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A mutation in a newly discovered small protein is connected to a significant increase in the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, expanding the known gene targets for the disease and presenting a new potential avenue for treatment, according to a USC study published Wednesday.

The protein, called SHMOOSE, is a “microprotein” encoded by a newly discovered gene within the cell’s energy-producing mitochondria, researchers said. A mutation within the gene partially inactivates the SHMOOSE microprotein and is associated with a 30% higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease across four different cohorts.

Nearly a quarter of people of European ancestry have the mutated version of the protein, according to the researchers.

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