Chaperones are highly conserved proteins responsible for the preservation and repair of the correct conformation of cellular macromolecules, such as proteins, RNAs, etc. Environmental stress leads to chaperone (heat-shock protein, stress protein) induction reflecting the protective role of chaperones as a key factor for cell survival and in repairing cellular damage after stress. The present review summarizes our current knowledge about the chaperone-deficiency in the aging process, as well as the possible involvement of chaperones in neurodegenerative diseases, such as in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington- and prion-related diseases. We also summarize a recent theory implying chaperones as "buffers" of variations in the human genome, which role probably increased during the last 200 years of successful medical practice minimizing natural selection. Chaperone-buffered, silent mutations may be activated during the aging process, which leads to the phenotypic exposure of previously hidden features and might contribute to the onset of polygenic diseases, such as atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes and several neurodegenerative diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology