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J Cell Biol. 2010 Sep 20;190(6):1023-37. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201003122.

α-Synuclein impairs macroautophagy: implications for Parkinson's disease.

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  • 1Department of Medical Genetics, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 0XY, England, UK.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized pathologically by intraneuronal inclusions called Lewy bodies, largely comprised of α-synuclein. Multiplication of the α-synuclein gene locus increases α-synuclein expression and causes PD. Thus, overexpression of wild-type α-synuclein is toxic. In this study, we demonstrate that α-synuclein overexpression impairs macroautophagy in mammalian cells and in transgenic mice. Our data show that α-synuclein compromises autophagy via Rab1a inhibition and Rab1a overexpression rescues the autophagy defect caused by α-synuclein. Inhibition of autophagy by α-synuclein overexpression or Rab1a knockdown causes mislocalization of the autophagy protein, Atg9, and decreases omegasome formation. Rab1a, α-synuclein, and Atg9 all regulate formation of the omegasome, which marks autophagosome precursors.

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