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Exp Cell Res. 2006 Jan 15;312(2):156-70. Epub 2005 Nov 17.

Dopamine-related and caspase-independent apoptosis in dopaminergic neurons induced by overexpression of human wild type or mutant alpha-synuclein.

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Department of Biological Science, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, 117543, Singapore.


Human wild type (WT) and mutant alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn) genes were overexpressed using a Tet-on expression system in stably transfected dopaminergic MN9D cells. Their overexpression induced caspase-independent and dopamine-related apoptosis not rescued by general caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK. While apoptosis due to overexpression of WT alpha-syn was completely abrogated by a specific tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) inhibitor, alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine (alpha-MT), the inhibitor only partially rescued apoptosis caused by overexpression of alpha-syn mutants. In addition, overexpression of mutants enhanced the toxicity of 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) and 6-hydroxyldopamine (6-OHDA) to MN9D cells, whereas overexpression of WT protected MN9D cells against MPP+ toxicity, but not against 6-OHDA. We conclude that WT alpha-syn is beneficial to dopaminergic neurons but its overexpression in the presence of endogenous dopamine makes it a potential threat to the cells. In contrast, mutant alpha-syn not only caused the loss of WT protective function but also the gain-of-toxicity which becomes more serious in the presence of dopamine and neurotoxins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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