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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Apr 25;97(9):4897-902.

Fiber diffraction of synthetic alpha-synuclein filaments shows amyloid-like cross-beta conformation.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, United Kingdom.


Filamentous inclusions made of alpha-synuclein constitute the defining neuropathological characteristic of Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and multiple system atrophy. Rare familial cases of Parkinson's disease are associated with mutations A53T and A30P in alpha-synuclein. We report here the assembly properties and secondary structure characteristics of recombinant alpha-synuclein. Carboxy-terminally truncated human alpha-synuclein (1-87) and (1-120) showed the fastest rates of assembly, followed by human A53T alpha-synuclein, and rat and zebra finch alpha-synuclein. Wild-type human alpha-synuclein and the A30P mutant showed slower rates of assembly. Upon shaking, filaments formed within 48 h at 37 degrees C. The related proteins beta- and gamma-synuclein only assembled after several weeks of incubation. Synthetic human alpha-synuclein filaments were decorated by an antibody directed against the carboxy-terminal 10 amino acids of alpha-synuclein, as were filaments extracted from dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy brains. Circular dichroism spectroscopy indicated that alpha-synuclein undergoes a conformational change from random coil to beta-sheet structure during assembly. X-ray diffraction and electron diffraction of the alpha-synuclein assemblies showed a cross-beta conformation characteristic of amyloid.

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