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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jul 18;278(29):27230-40. Epub 2003 May 8.

Effects of oxidative and nitrative challenges on alpha-synuclein fibrillogenesis involve distinct mechanisms of protein modifications.

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  • 1Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Filamentous inclusions of alpha-synuclein protein are hallmarks of neurodegenerative diseases collectively known as synucleinopathies. Previous studies have shown that exposure to oxidative and nitrative species stabilizes alpha-synuclein filaments in vitro, and this stabilization may be due to dityrosine cross-linking. To test this hypothesis, we mutated tyrosine residues to phenylalanine and generated recombinant wild type and mutant alpha-synuclein proteins. alpha-Synuclein proteins lacking some or all tyrosine residues form fibrils to the same extent as the wild type protein. Tyrosine residues are not required for protein cross-linking or filament stabilization resulting from transition metal-mediated oxidation, because higher Mr SDS-resistant oligomers and filaments stable to chaotropic agents are detected using all Tyr --> Phe alpha-synuclein mutants. By contrast, cross-linking resulting from exposure to nitrating agents required the presence of one or more tyrosine residues. Furthermore, tyrosine cross-linking is involved in filament stabilization, because nitrating agent-exposed assembled wild type, but not mutant alpha-synuclein lacking all tyrosine residues, was stable to chaotropic treatment. In addition, the formation of stable alpha-synuclein inclusions in intact cells after exposure to oxidizing and nitrating species requires tyrosine residues. These findings demonstrate that nitrative and/or oxidative stress results in distinct mechanisms of alpha-synuclein protein modifications that can influence the formation of stable alpha-synuclein fibrils.

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