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Neuroscience. 2001;104(3):901-12.

Alpha-synuclein-enhanced green fluorescent protein fusion proteins form proteasome sensitive inclusions in primary neurons.

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Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit, Department of Neurology, Rm 6405, Massachusetts General Hospital East, 149, 13th Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


Alpha-synuclein accumulates in the brains of sporadic Parkinson's disease patients as a major component of Lewy bodies, and mutations in alpha-synuclein are associated with familial forms of Parkinson's disease. The pathogenic mechanisms that precede and promote the aggregation of alpha-synuclein into Lewy bodies in neurons remain to be determined. Here, we constructed a series of alpha-synuclein-enhanced green fluorescent protein (alpha-synucleinEGFP, SynEGFP) fusion proteins to address whether the Parkinson's disease-associated mutations alter the subcellular distribution of alpha-synuclein, and to use as a tool for experimental manipulations to induce aggregate formation. When transfected into mouse cultured primary neurons, the 49-kDa alpha-synucleinEGFP fusion proteins are partially truncated to a approximately 27-kDa form. This non-fluorescent carboxy-terminally modified fusion protein spontaneously forms inclusions in the neuronal cytoplasm. A marked increase in the accumulation of inclusions is detected following treatment with each of three proteasome inhibitors, n-acetyl-leu-leu-norleucinal, lactacystin and MG132. Interestingly, Ala30Pro alpha-synucleinEGFP does not form the cytoplasmic inclusions that are characteristic of wild-type and Ala53Thr alpha-synucleinEGFP, supporting the idea that the Ala30Pro alpha-synuclein protein conformation differs from wild-type alpha-synuclein. Similar inclusions are formed if alpha-synuclein carboxy-terminus is modified by the addition of a V5/6xHistidine epitope tag. By contrast, overexpression of unmodified alpha-synuclein does not lead to aggregate formation. Furthermore, synphilin-1, an alpha-synuclein interacting protein also found in Lewy bodies, colocalizes with the carboxy-terminally truncated alpha-synuclein fusion protein in discrete cytoplasmic inclusions.Our finding that manipulations of the carboxy-terminus of alpha-synuclein lead to inclusion formation may provide a model for studies of the pathogenic mechanisms of alpha-synuclein aggregation in Lewy bodies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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