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Biochemistry. 2009 Feb 10;48(5):1077-83. doi: 10.1021/bi801871h.

Evidence that alpha-synuclein does not inhibit phospholipase D.

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Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Alpha-synuclein (alphaSyn) is a small cytosolic protein of unknown function, which is highly enriched in the brain. It is genetically linked to Parkinson's disease (PD) in that missense mutations or multiplication of the gene encoding alphaSyn causes early onset familial PD. Furthermore, the neuropathological hallmarks of both sporadic and familial PD, Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, contain insoluble aggregates of alphaSyn. Several studies have reported evidence that alphaSyn can inhibit phospholipase D (PLD), which hydrolyzes phosphatidylcholine to form phosphatidic acid and choline. Although various hypotheses exist regarding the roles of alphaSyn in health and disease, no other specific biochemical function for this protein has been reported to date. Because PLD inhibition could represent an important function of alphaSyn, we sought to extend existing reports on this interaction. Using purified proteins, we tested the ability of alphaSyn to inhibit PLD activity in cell-free assays. We also examined several cell lines and transfection conditions to assess whether alphaSyn inhibits endogenous or overexpressed PLD in cultured mammalian cells. In yeast, we extended our previous report of an interaction between alphaSyn and PLD-dependent phenotypes, for which PLD activity is absolutely necessary. Despite testing a range of experimental conditions, including those previously published, we observed no significant inhibition of PLD by alphaSyn in any of these systems. We propose that the previously reported effects of alphaSyn on PLD activity could be due to increased endoplasmic reticulum-related stress associated with alphaSyn overexpression in cells, but are not likely due to a specific and direct interaction between alphaSyn and PLD.

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