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Neurochem Res. 2008 Jul;33(7):1401-9. doi: 10.1007/s11064-008-9599-7. Epub 2008 Mar 21.

Silencing alpha-synuclein gene expression enhances tyrosine hydroxylase activity in MN9D cells.

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Beijing Institute for Neuroscience, Beijing Center of Neural Regeneration and Repair, Key Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Disease of the Ministry of Education, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100069, China.


alpha-Synuclein has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). Previous studies have shown that alpha-synuclein is involved in the regulation of dopamine (DA) metabolism, possibly by down-regulating the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in DA biosynthesis. In this study, we constructed alpha-synuclein stably silenced MN9D/alpha-SYN(-) cells by vector mediated RNA interference and examined its effects on DA metabolism. We found that there were no significant differences in TH protein and mRNA levels between MN9D, MN9D/alpha-SYN(-) and MN9D/CON cells, suggesting that silencing alpha-synuclein expression does not affect TH gene expression. However, significant increases in phosphorylated TH, cytosolic 3, 4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) and DA levels were observed in MN9D/alpha-SYN(-) cells. Our data show that TH activity and DA biosynthesis were enhanced by down-regulation of alpha-synuclein, suggesting that alpha-synuclein may act as a negative regulator of cytosolic DA. With respect to PD pathology, a loss of functional alpha-synuclein may result in increased DA levels in neurons that may lead to cell injury or even death.

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