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Neurosci Lett. 2003 Apr 17;340(3):189-92.

Attenuation of dopamine transporter activity by alpha-synuclein.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20007, USA.


Alpha-synuclein accumulates in Lewy bodies in idiopathic Parkinson's disease. Neither the normal function nor contribution of alpha-synuclein to the pathophysiology of neurodegeneration is known. Here we show that a normal function of alpha-synuclein is the negative modulation of human dopamine transporter (hDAT) activity. In cotransfected Ltk(-) cells, alpha-synuclein attenuated the reuptake of dopamine by hDAT, in a manner dependent on expression levels of alpha-synuclein. Alpha-synuclein-mediated inhibition of hDAT activity was independent of expression vectors, cell types and methods of transfection. The alpha-synuclein-mediated decrease in DAT activity occurred through diminished uptake velocity of dopamine, without changes in the affinity of hDAT for dopamine. Co-immunoprecipitation studies confirmed the formation of a stable complex between alpha-synuclein and DAT, through direct protein:protein interactions. Thus, under normal (non-toxic) expression conditions, alpha-synuclein negatively modulates dopamine uptake by DAT.

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