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Department of Neuroscience

Corinne Lasmezas, PhD

Faculty, Graduate Program
Department of Immunology and Microbiology
Florida Campus
(561) 228-3456

Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Faculty, Graduate Program

Research Focus

Neurodegenerative diseases

Our laboratory focuses on the study of neurodegenerative diseases, especially those linked to protein misfolding (protein misfolding neurodegenerative diseases, or PMNDs). These diseases comprise Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, prion diseases, fronto-temporal dementia, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. None of them are curable. They are all due to host proteins loosing their natural, functional conformation and adopting a new shape that renders them neurotoxic and prone to aggregation.

Prion diseases constitute the prototypic PMND. These rapidly fatal neurodegenerative diseases affect humans and animals and are caused by infectious aggregates of the prion protein PrP, called prions. In humans, prions cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. In animals, the recent epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the United Kingdom has caused major turmoil throughout Europe, and later, in other countries such as Japan, Canada and the United States, because the bovine prion disease is transmissible to humans causing variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The transmissibility of the latter by blood transfusion created a novel public health issue.

Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases affect 5 and 1 Million people in the USA, respectively. Their incidence has steadily increased with an aging population, having a major impact on public health, society and the economy. Alzheimer's disease is the 6th leading cause of death in developed countries.

In recent years, it has been discovered that aggregates of amyloidogenic proteins such as Ab, tau, a-synuclein or SOD-1 involved in Alzheimer's, Parkinson diseases and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, respectively, spread from cell to cell in culture and in the living organism similarly to PrP aggregates, showing "prion-like" behavior. There are other features common to these toxic proteins and the way they injure neurons (e.g. toxicity of low molecular weight aggregates, alteration of autophagy, mitochondrial distress).

Our aim is the development of novel, disease-modifying therapeutic approaches for protein misfolding neurodegenerative diseases. We think that this aim will be best achieved by intervention strategies based on blocking prion-like propagation on one hand, and the neurodegenerative process on the other hand. We are pursuing both goals by studying the underlying biology, defining therapeutic targets, identifying active molecules by high-throughput screening and developing lead compounds. The latter two tasks are performed in collaboration with our lead identification and chemist colleagues at Scripps Florida.



M.S., Aeronautic and Space Medicine, University of Toulouse
D.V.M., Veterinary Medicine, University of Toulouse
M.S., Neurosciences, Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris
Ph.D., Neurosciences, Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris

Selected References

Grassi D., Howard S., Zhou M., Diaz-Perez N., Urban N.T., Guerrero-Given D., Kamasawa N., Volpicelli-Daley L.A., LoGrasso P., Lasmézas, C.I. Identification of a highly neurotoxic alpha-synuclein species inducing mitochondrial damage and mitophagy in Parkinson's disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2018:115(11): E2634-E2643.

Zhou M., Ottenberg G., Sferrazza G.F., Hubbs C., Fallahi M., Rumbaugh G., Brantley A., Lasmézas, C.I. Neuronal death induced by misfolded prion protein is due to NAD+ depletion and can be relieved in vitro and in vivo by NAD+ replenishment. Brain 2015:138(4): 992-1008.

Karapetyan Y., Sferrazza G.F., Zhou M., Ottenberg G., Spicer T., Chase P., Fallahi M., Hodder P., Weissmann C., Lasmézas C. I. Unique drug screening approach for prion diseases identifies tacrolimus and astemizole as anti-prion agents. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2013:110(17): 7044-9.

Zhou M., Ottenberg G., Sferrazza G.F., Lasmézas, C. I. Highly neurotoxic monomeric alpha-helical prion protein. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA: 2012:109(8): 3113-8.

Saa P., Sferrazza G.F., Ottenberg G., Oelschlegel A., Dorsey K., Lasmézas, C. I. Strain-specific role of RNAs in prion replication. J. Virol; 2012:86(19).

Simoneau S, Rezaei H, Salès N, Kaiser-Schulz G, Lefebvre-Roque M, Vidal C, Fournier JG, Comte J, Wopfner F, Grosclaude J, Schätzl H, Lasmézas CI. In vitro and in vivo neurotoxicity of prion protein oligomers. PLoS Pathog. 2007 Aug 31;3(8):e125.

Lasmézas, C. I., Comoy, E., Hawkins, S., Herzog, C., Mouthon, F., Konold, T., Auvre, F., Correia, E., Lescoutra-Etchegaray, N., Sales, N., Wells, G., Brown, P. & Deslys, J. P. Risk of oral infection with bovine spongiform encephalopathy agent in primates. Lancet 2005 ;365, 781-3.

Adjou, K. T., S. Simoneau, N. Salès, F. Lamoury, D. Dormont, D. Papy-Garcia, D. Barritault, J. P. Deslys, and Lasmézas C. I. A novel generation of heparan sulfate mimetics for the treatment of prion diseases. J Gen Virol 2003 84:2595-603.

Lasmézas C. I., Fournier J-G, Nouvel V., Boe H., Marcé D., Lamoury F., Kopp N., Hauw J-J, Ironside J., Bruce M., Dormont D. & Deslys J-P. Adaptation of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy agent to primates and comparison with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease: Implications for human health. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2001 ; 98, 4142-4147

Lasmézas C. I., Deslys JP, Robain O, Jaegly A., Beringue V., Peyrin J-M, Fournier J-G, Hauw J-J, Rossier J., Dormont D. Transmission of the BSE agent to mice in the absence of detectable abnormal prion protein. Science 1997;275: 402-405.

Lasmézas C. I., Deslys JP, Robain O, Demaimay, R., Adjour K.T., Lamoury F., Ironside J., Hauw J-J, Dormont D. BSE transmission to macaques. Nature 1996;381: 743-744.