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J Biol Chem. 2004 Apr 9;279(15):15240-7. Epub 2004 Jan 23.

Alpha-synuclein up-regulation and aggregation during MPP+-induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells: intermediacy of transferrin receptor iron and hydrogen peroxide.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics and Free Radical Research Center, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53226, USA.


1-Methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP(+)) is a neurotoxin that causes Parkinson's disease in experimental animals and humans. Despite the fact that intracellular iron was shown to be crucial for MPP(+)-induced apoptotic cell death, the molecular mechanisms for the iron requirement remain unclear. We investigated the role of transferrin receptor (TfR) and iron in modulating the expression of alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn) in MPP(+)-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis. Results show that MPP(+) inhibits mitochondrial complex-1 and aconitase activities leading to enhanced H(2)O(2) generation, TfR expression and alpha-syn expression/aggregation. Pretreatment with cell-permeable iron chelators, TfR antibody (that inhibits TfR-mediated iron uptake), or transfection with glutathione peroxidase (GPx1) enzyme inhibits intracellular oxidant generation, alpha-syn expression/aggregation, and apoptotic signaling as measured by caspase-3 activation. Cells overexpressing alpha-syn exacerbated MPP(+) toxicity, whereas antisense alpha-syn treatment totally abrogated MPP(+)-induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells without affecting oxidant generation. The increased cytotoxic effects of alpha-syn in MPP(+)-treated cells were attributed to inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase and proteasomal function. We conclude that MPP(+)-induced iron signaling is responsible for intracellular oxidant generation, alpha-syn expression, proteasomal dysfunction, and apoptosis. Relevance to Parkinson's disease is discussed.

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