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Acta Neuropathol. 2001 Oct;102(4):329-34.

Alpha-synuclein has an altered conformation and shows a tight intermolecular interaction with ubiquitin in Lewy bodies.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital East, Charlestown 02129, USA.


Alpha-synuclein, a protein in which two mutations have been identified that cause autosomal dominant Parkinson's disease, is thought to serve as a nidus for the development of a Lewy body. We hypothesized that alpha-synuclein would display different intra- and intermolecular associations in Lewy bodies than it does in its normal intracellular compartments. Using sensitive fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) techniques, we found evidence that alpha-synuclein is more compact and in closer association with other alpha-synuclein molecules in Lewy bodies than it is in the neuropil. In addition, we found evidence of a close, direct intermolecular interaction between the N terminus of alpha-synuclein and ubiquitin. These observations provide support for the hypothesis that in Lewy bodies alpha-synuclein adopts an altered three-dimensional structure and undergoes N-terminal ubiquitination.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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