Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurosci. 2009 Oct 28;29(43):13578-88. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4390-09.2009.

Beclin 1 gene transfer activates autophagy and ameliorates the neurodegenerative pathology in alpha-synuclein models of Parkinson's and Lewy body diseases.

Author information

Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0624, USA.


Accumulation of the synaptic protein alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn) is a hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD) and Lewy body disease (LBD), a heterogeneous group of disorders with dementia and parkinsonism, where Alzheimer's disease and PD interact. Accumulation of alpha-syn in these patients might be associated with alterations in the autophagy pathway. Therefore, we postulate that delivery of beclin 1, a regulator of the autophagy pathway, might constitute a strategy toward developing a therapy for LBD/PD. Overexpression of alpha-syn from lentivirus transduction in a neuronal cell line resulted in lysosomal accumulation and alterations in autophagy. Coexpression of beclin 1 activated autophagy, reduced accumulation of alpha-syn, and ameliorated associated neuritic alterations. The effects of beclin 1 overexpression on LC3 and alpha-syn accumulation were partially blocked by 3-MA and completely blocked by bafilomycin A1. In contrast, rapamycin enhanced the effects of beclin 1. To evaluate the potential effects of activating autophagy in vivo, a lentivirus expressing beclin 1 was delivered to the brain of a alpha-syn transgenic mouse. Neuropathological analysis demonstrated that beclin 1 injections ameliorated the synaptic and dendritic pathology in the tg mice and reduced the accumulation of alpha-syn in the limbic system without any significant deleterious effects. This was accompanied by enhanced lysosomal activation and reduced alterations in the autophagy pathway. Thus, beclin 1 plays an important role in the intracellular degradation of alpha-syn either directly or indirectly through the autophagy pathway and may present a novel therapeutic target for LBD/PD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Publication type, MeSH terms, Substances, Grant support

Publication type

MeSH terms


Grant support

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center