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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Oct 11;108(41):17004-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1109356108. Epub 2011 Sep 27.

Ubiquitin ligase Nedd4 promotes alpha-synuclein degradation by the endosomal-lysosomal pathway.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


α-Synuclein is an abundant brain protein that binds to lipid membranes and is involved in the recycling of presynaptic vesicles. In Parkinson disease, α-synuclein accumulates in intraneuronal inclusions often containing ubiquitin chains. Here we show that the ubiquitin ligase Nedd4, which functions in the endosomal-lysosomal pathway, robustly ubiquitinates α-synuclein, unlike ligases previously implicated in its degradation. Purified Nedd4 recognizes the carboxyl terminus of α-synuclein (residues 120-133) and attaches K63-linked ubiquitin chains. In human cells, Nedd4 overexpression enhances α-synuclein ubiquitination and clearance by a lysosomal process requiring components of the endosomal-sorting complex required for transport. Conversely, Nedd4 down-regulation increases α-synuclein content. In yeast, disruption of the Nedd4 ortholog Rsp5p decreases α-synuclein degradation and enhances inclusion formation and α-synuclein toxicity. In human brains, Nedd4 is present in pigmented neurons and is expressed especially strongly in neurons containing Lewy bodies. Thus, ubiquitination by Nedd4 targets α-synuclein to the endosomal-lysosomal pathway and, by reducing α-synuclein content, may help protect against the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease and other α-synucleinopathies.

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