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Neuroscience. 2009 Jun 2;160(4):796-804. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.03.002. Epub 2009 Mar 9.

Nuclear and neuritic distribution of serine-129 phosphorylated alpha-synuclein in transgenic mice.

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Laboratory of Functional Neurogenetics, Department of Neurodegeneration, Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University Clinics Tübingen, Otfried-Müller-Strasse 27, Tübingen, Germany.


Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies are very frequent neurological disorders of the elderly. Mutations in the alpha-synuclein (alphaSYN) gene cause Parkinson's disease, often associated with dementia. Neuropathologically these diseases are characterized by the presence of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, intraneuronal inclusions mostly composed of alphaSYN protein fibrils. Moreover, alphaSYN is phosphorylated at S129 (phospho-serine-129 [PSer129]) in neuropathological lesions. Using our (Thy1)-[A30P]alphaSYN transgenic mouse model that develops age-dependent impairment in fear conditioning behavior, we investigated PSer129 immunostaining in the brain. We found distinct staining patterns using new, sensitive monoclonal antibodies. Somal and nuclear PSer129 immunoreactivity increased with age in hippocampal and cortical areas as well as the lateral/basolateral amygdalar nuclei and was present also in young, pre-symptomatic mice, but not wild-type controls. The tendency of PSer129 immunostaining to accumulate in the nucleus was confirmed in cell culture. (Thy1)-[A30P]alphaSYN transgenic mice further developed age-dependent, specific neuritic/terminal alphaSYN pathology in the medial parts of the central amygdalar nucleus and one of its projection areas, the lateral hypothalamus. Interestingly, this type of PSer129 neuropathology was thioflavine S negative, unlike the Lewy-like neuropathology present in the brain stem of (Thy1)-[A30P]alphaSYN mice. Thus, alphaSYN becomes phosphorylated in distinct parts of the brain in this alpha-synucleinopathy mouse model, showing age-dependent increases of nuclear PSer129 in cortical brain areas and the formation of neuritic/terminal PSer129 neuropathology with variable amyloid quality within the fear conditioning circuitry and the brain stem.

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