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Neuron. 2004 Apr 22;42(2):237-51.

The synaptic vesicle protein CSP alpha prevents presynaptic degeneration.

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Center for Basic Neuroscience, Department of Molecular Genetics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75390, USA.


Cysteine string protein alpha (CSPalpha)--an abundant synaptic vesicle protein that contains a DNA-J domain characteristic of Hsp40 chaperones--is thought to regulate Ca2+ channels and/or synaptic vesicle exocytosis. We now show that, in young mice, deletion of CSPalpha does not impair survival and causes no significant changes in presynaptic Ca2+ currents or synaptic vesicle exocytosis as measured in the Calyx of Held synapse. At 2-4 weeks of age, however, CSPalpha-deficient mice develop a progressive, fatal sensorimotor disorder. The neuromuscular junctions and Calyx synapses of CSPalpha-deficient mice exhibit increasing neurodegenerative changes, synaptic transmission becomes severely impaired, and the mutant mice die at approximately 2 months of age. Our data suggest that CSPalpha is not essential for the normal operation of Ca2+ channels or exocytosis but acts as a presynaptic chaperone that maintains continued synaptic function, raising the possibility that enhanced CSPalpha function could attenuate neurodegenerative diseases.

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