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Eur J Neurosci. 2004 Oct;20(7):1969-72.

Lack of alpha-synuclein does not alter apoptosis of neonatal catecholaminergic neurons.

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Department of Neurology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


alpha-Synuclein is an abundant neuronal protein of uncertain function linked to Parkinson's disease. Numerous studies have proposed an antiapoptotic function for alpha-synuclein, based on overexpression experiments in cell lines. To explore whether alpha-synuclein has such a physiological function, we assessed the response of wild type or alpha-synuclein null neonatal mouse sympathetic neurons to nerve growth factor deprivation, a well-characterized stimulus of neuronal apoptosis. There was no difference in the rate of neuronal loss, neuronal apoptosis, or c-jun phosphorylation. Furthermore, the absence of alpha-synuclein did not alter the magnitude of naturally occurring cell death in vivo in substantia nigra pars compacta. Therefore, alpha-synuclein is unlikely to play a significant role in apoptotic signalling in catecholaminergic neurons of the neonatal nervous system.

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