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Lazaro D.F.,Center for Nanoscale Microscopy and Molecular Physiology of the Brain University Medical Goettingen | Rodrigues E.F.,Center for Nanoscale Microscopy and Molecular Physiology of the Brain University Medical Goettingen | Langohr R.,University of Ulm | Shahpasandzadeh H.,University of Gottingen | And 15 more authors.
PLoS Genetics | Year: 2014

Aggregation of alpha-synuclein (ASYN) in Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites is the typical pathological hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD) and other synucleinopathies. Furthermore, mutations in the gene encoding for ASYN are associated with familial and sporadic forms of PD, suggesting this protein plays a central role in the disease. However, the precise contribution of ASYN to neuronal dysfunction and death is unclear. There is intense debate about the nature of the toxic species of ASYN and little is known about the molecular determinants of oligomerization and aggregation of ASYN in the cell. In order to clarify the effects of different mutations on the propensity of ASYN to oligomerize and aggregate, we assembled a panel of 19 ASYN variants and compared their behaviour. We found that familial mutants linked to PD (A30P, E46K, H50Q, G51D and A53T) exhibited identical propensities to oligomerize in living cells, but had distinct abilities to form inclusions. While the A30P mutant reduced the percentage of cells with inclusions, the E46K mutant had the opposite effect. Interestingly, artificial proline mutants designed to interfere with the helical structure of the N-terminal domain, showed increased propensity to form oligomeric species rather than inclusions. Moreover, lysine substitution mutants increased oligomerization and altered the pattern of aggregation. Altogether, our data shed light into the molecular effects of ASYN mutations in a cellular context, and established a common ground for the study of genetic and pharmacological modulators of the aggregation process, opening new perspectives for therapeutic intervention in PD and other synucleinopathies. © 2014 Lázaro et al. Source

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