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J Neurochem. 2002 Nov;83(4):846-54.

TorsinA and heat shock proteins act as molecular chaperones: suppression of alpha-synuclein aggregation.

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Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit, Center for Aging, Genetics and Neurodegeneration, Massachusetts General Hospital East, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA.


TorsinA, a protein with homology to yeast heat shock protein104, has previously been demonstrated to colocalize with alpha-synuclein in Lewy bodies, the pathological hallmark of Parkinson's disease. Heat shock proteins are a family of chaperones that are both constitutively expressed and induced by stressors, and that serve essential functions for protein refolding and/or degradation. Here, we demonstrate that, like torsinA, specific molecular chaperone heat shock proteins colocalize with alpha-synuclein in Lewy bodies. In addition, using a cellular model of alpha-synuclein aggregation, we demonstrate that torsinA and specific heat shock protein molecular chaperones colocalize with alpha-synuclein immunopositive inclusions. Further, overexpression of torsinA and specific heat shock proteins suppress alpha-synuclein aggregation in this cellular model, whereas mutant torsinA has no effect. These data suggest that torsinA has chaperone-like activity and that the disease-associated GAG deletion mutant has a loss-of-function phenotype. Moreover, these data support a role for chaperone proteins, including torsinA and heat shock proteins, in cellular responses to neurodegenerative inclusions.

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