Mutant and wild type human alpha-synucleins assemble into elongated filaments with distinct morphologies in vitro.
alpha-Synuclein is a soluble presynaptic protein which is pathologically redistributed within intracellular lesions characteristic of several neurodegenerative diseases. Here we demonstrate that wild type and two mutant forms of alpha-synuclein linked to familial Parkinson's disease (Ala30 --> Pro and Ala53 --> Thr) self-aggregate and assemble into 10-19-nm-wide filaments with distinct morphologies under defined in vitro conditions. Immunogold labeling demonstrates that the central region of all these filaments are more robustly labeled than the N-terminal or C-terminal regions, suggesting that the latter regions are buried within the filaments. Since in vitro generated alpha-synuclein filaments resemble the major ultrastructural elements of authentic Lewy bodies that are hallmark lesions of Parkinson's disease, we propose that self-aggregating alpha-synuclein is the major subunit protein of these filamentous lesions. (+info)
Both familial Parkinson's disease mutations accelerate alpha-synuclein aggregation.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that is pathologically characterized by the presence of intracytoplasmic Lewy bodies, the major component of which are filaments consisting of alpha-synuclein. Two recently identified point mutations in alpha-synuclein are the only known genetic causes of PD, but their pathogenic mechanism is not understood. Here we show that both wild type and mutant alpha-synuclein form insoluble fibrillar aggregates with antiparallel beta-sheet structure upon incubation at physiological temperature in vitro. Importantly, aggregate formation is accelerated by both PD-linked mutations. Under the experimental conditions, the lag time for the formation of precipitable aggregates is about 280 h for the wild type protein, 180 h for the A30P mutant, and only 100 h for the A53T mutant protein. These data suggest that the formation of alpha-synuclein aggregates could be a critical step in PD pathogenesis, which is accelerated by the PD-linked mutations. (+info)
Copper(II)-induced self-oligomerization of alpha-synuclein.
alpha-Synuclein is a component of the abnormal protein depositions in senile plaques and Lewy bodies of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease respectively. The protein was suggested to provide a possible nucleation centre for plaque formation in AD via selective interaction with amyloid beta/A4 protein (Abeta). We have shown previously that alpha-synuclein has experienced self-oligomerization when Abeta25-35 was present in an orientation-specific manner in the sequence. Here we examine this biochemically specific self-oligomerization with the use of various metals. Strikingly, copper(II) was the most effective metal ion affecting alpha-synuclein to form self-oligomers in the presence of coupling reagents such as dicyclohexylcarbodi-imide or N-(ethoxycarbonyl)-2-ethoxy-1,2-dihydroquinoline. The size distribution of the oligomers indicated that monomeric alpha-synuclein was oligomerized sequentially. The copper-induced oligomerization was shown to be suppressed as the acidic C-terminus of alpha-synuclein was truncated by treatment with endoproteinase Asp-N. In contrast, the Abeta25-35-induced oligomerizations of the intact and truncated forms of alpha-synuclein were not affected. This clearly indicated that the copper-induced oligomerization was dependent on the acidic C-terminal region and that its underlying biochemical mechanism was distinct from that of the Abeta25-35-induced oligomerization. Although the physiological or pathological relevance of the oligomerization remains currently elusive, the common outcome of alpha-synuclein on treatment with copper or Abeta25-35 might be useful in understanding neurodegenerative disorders in molecular terms. In addition, abnormal copper homoeostasis could be considered as one of the risk factors for the development of disorders such as AD or Parkinson's disease. (+info)
alpha-synuclein fibrillogenesis is nucleation-dependent. Implications for the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that is pathologically characterized by the presence of intracytoplasmic Lewy bodies, the major components of which are filaments consisting of alpha-synuclein. Two recently identified point mutations in alpha-synuclein are the only known genetic causes of PD. alpha-Synuclein fibrils similar to the Lewy body filaments can be formed in vitro, and we have shown recently that both PD-linked mutations accelerate their formation. This study addresses the mechanism of alpha-synuclein aggregation: we show that (i) it is a nucleation-dependent process that can be seeded by aggregated alpha-synuclein functioning as nuclei, (ii) this fibril growth follows first-order kinetics with respect to alpha-synuclein concentration, and (iii) mutant alpha-synuclein can seed the aggregation of wild type alpha-synuclein, which leads us to predict that the Lewy bodies of familial PD patients with alpha-synuclein mutations will contain both, the mutant and the wild type protein. Finally (iv), we show that wild type and mutant forms of alpha-synuclein do not differ in their critical concentrations. These results suggest that differences in aggregation kinetics of alpha-synucleins cannot be explained by differences in solubility but are due to different nucleation rates. Consequently, alpha-synuclein nucleation may be the rate-limiting step for the formation of Lewy body alpha-synuclein fibrils in Parkinson's disease. (+info)
alpha-Synuclein shares physical and functional homology with 14-3-3 proteins.
alpha-Synuclein has been implicated in the pathophysiology of many neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease (PD) and Alzheimer's disease. Mutations in alpha-synuclein cause some cases of familial PD (Polymeropoulos et al., 1997; Kruger et al., 1998). In addition, many neurodegenerative diseases show accumulation of alpha-synuclein in dystrophic neurites and in Lewy bodies (Spillantini et al., 1998). Here, we show that alpha-synuclein shares physical and functional homology with 14-3-3 proteins, which are a family of ubiquitous cytoplasmic chaperones. Regions of alpha-synuclein and 14-3-3 proteins share over 40% homology. In addition, alpha-synuclein binds to 14-3-3 proteins, as well as some proteins known to associate with 14-3-3, including protein kinase C, BAD, and extracellular regulated kinase, but not Raf-1. We also show that overexpression of alpha-synuclein inhibits protein kinase C activity. The association of alpha-synuclein with BAD and inhibition of protein kinase C suggests that increased expression of alpha-synuclein could be harmful. Consistent with this hypothesis, we observed that overexpression of wild-type alpha-synuclein is toxic, and overexpression of alpha-synuclein containing the A53T or A30P mutations exhibits even greater toxicity. The activity and binding profile of alpha-synuclein suggests that it might act as a protein chaperone and that accumulation of alpha-synuclein could contribute to cell death in neurodegenerative diseases. (+info)
Filamentous nerve cell inclusions in neurodegenerative diseases: tauopathies and alpha-synucleinopathies.
Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease are the most common neurodegenerative diseases. They are characterized by the degeneration of selected populations of nerve cells that develop filamentous inclusions before degeneration. The neuronal inclusions of Alzheimer's disease are made of the microtubule-associated protein tau, in a hyperphosphorylated state. Recent work has shown that the filamentous inclusions of Parkinson's disease are made of the protein alpha-synuclein and that rare, familial forms of Parkinson's disease are caused by missense mutations in the alpha-synuclein gene. Besides Parkinson's disease, the filamentous inclusions of two additional neurodegenerative diseases, namely dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy, have also been found to be made of alpha-synuclein. Abundant filamentous tau inclusions are not limited to Alzheimer's disease. They are the defining neuropathological characteristic of frontotemporal dementias such as Pick's disease, and of progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration. The recent discovery of mutations in the tau gene in familial forms of frontotemporal dementia has provided a direct link between tau dysfunction and dementing disease. The new work has established that tauopathies and alpha-synucleinopathies account for most late-onset neurodegenerative diseases in man. The formation of intracellular filamentous inclusions might be the gain of toxic function that leads to the demise of affected brain cells. (+info)
alpha-synuclein binds to Tau and stimulates the protein kinase A-catalyzed tau phosphorylation of serine residues 262 and 356.
alpha-Synuclein has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative disorders based on the direct linking of missense mutations in alpha-synuclein to autosomal dominant Parkinson's disease and its presence in Lewy-like lesions. To gain insight into alpha-synuclein functions, we have investigated whether it binds neuronal proteins and modulates their functional state. The microtubule-associated protein tau was identified as a ligand by alpha-synuclein affinity chromatography of human brain cytosol. Direct binding assays using (125)I-labeled human tau40 demonstrated a reversible binding with a IC(50) about 50 pM. The interacting domains were localized to the C terminus of alpha-synuclein and the microtubule binding region of tau as determined by protein fragmentation and the use of recombinant peptides. High concentrations of tubulin inhibited the binding between tau and alpha-synuclein. Functionally, alpha-synuclein stimulated the protein kinase A-catalyzed phosphorylation of tau serine residues 262 and 356 as determined using a phospho-epitope-specific antibody. We propose that alpha-synuclein modulates the phosphorylation of soluble axonal tau and thereby indirectly affects the stability of axonal microtubules. (+info)
The genetics of disorders with synuclein pathology and parkinsonism.
Despite being considered the archetypal non-genetic neurological disorder, genetic analysis of Parkinson's disease has shown that there are at least three genetic loci. Furthermore, these analyses have suggested that the phenotype of the pathogenic loci is wider than simple Parkinson's disease and may include Lewy body dementia and some forms of essential tremor. Identification of alpha-synuclein as the first of the loci involved in Parkinson's disease and the identification of this protein in pathological deposits in other disorders has led to the suggestion that it may share pathogenic mechanisms with multiple system atrophy, Alzheimer's disease and prion disease and that these mechanisms are related to a synuclein pathway to cell death. Finally, genetic analysis of the synuclein diseases and the tau diseases may indicate that this synuclein pathway is an alternative to the tau pathway to cell death. (+info)