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J Biol Chem. 2009 May 8;284(19):13128-42. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M809067200. Epub 2009 Jan 21.

Dissecting the mechanisms of tissue transglutaminase-induced cross-linking of alpha-synuclein: implications for the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Neuroproteomics, Brain Mind Institute, School of Life Sciences, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland.


Tissue transglutaminase (tTG) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease (PD). However, exactly how tTG modulates the structural and functional properties of alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn) and contributes to the pathogenesis of PD remains unknown. Using site-directed mutagenesis combined with detailed biophysical and mass spectrometry analyses, we sought to identify the exact residues involved in tTG-catalyzed cross-linking of wild-type alpha-syn and alpha-syn mutants associated with PD. To better understand the structural consequences of each cross-linking reaction, we determined the effect of tTG-catalyzed cross-linking on the oligomerization, fibrillization, and membrane binding of alpha-syn in vitro. Our findings show that tTG-catalyzed cross-linking of monomeric alpha-syn involves multiple cross-links (specifically 2-3). We subjected tTG-catalyzed cross-linked monomeric alpha-syn composed of either wild-type or Gln --> Asn mutants to sequential proteolysis by multiple enzymes and peptide mapping by mass spectrometry. Using this approach, we identified the glutamine and lysine residues involved in tTG-catalyzed intramolecular cross-linking of alpha-syn. These studies demonstrate for the first time that Gln(79) and Gln(109) serve as the primary tTG reactive sites. Mutating both residues to asparagine abolishes tTG-catalyzed cross-linking of alpha-syn and tTG-induced inhibition of alpha-syn fibrillization in vitro. To further elucidate the sequence and structural basis underlying these effects, we identified the lysine residues that form isopeptide bonds with Gln(79) and Gln(109). This study provides mechanistic insight into the sequence and structural basis of the inhibitory effects of tTG on alpha-syn fibrillogenesis in vivo, and it sheds light on the potential role of tTG cross-linking on modulating the physiological and pathogenic properties of alpha-syn.

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