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Biochemistry. 2010 Feb 9;49(5):862-71. doi: 10.1021/bi901723p.

Differential phospholipid binding of alpha-synuclein variants implicated in Parkinson's disease revealed by solution NMR spectroscopy.

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Laboratory of Chemical Physics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-0520, USA.


Three familial variants of the presynaptic protein alpha-synuclein (alphaS), A30P, E46K, and A53T, correlate with rare inherited Parkinson's disease (PD), while wild-type alphaS is implicated in sporadic PD. The classic manifestation of both familiar and sporadic PD is the formation of fibrillar structures of alphaS which accumulate as the main component in intraneuronal Lewy bodies. At presynaptic termini, the partitioning of alphaS between disordered cytosolic and membrane-bound states likely mediates its proposed role in regulation of reserve pools of synaptic vesicles. Previously, we reported on multiple distinct phospholipid binding modes of alphaS with slow binding kinetics. Here, we report the phospholipid binding properties of the disease variants, viewed by solution NMR in a residue-specific manner. Our results agree qualitatively with previous biophysical studies citing overall decreased lipid affinity for the A30P mutation, comparable affinity for A53T, and an increased level of binding of E46K, relative to wild-type alphaS. Additionally, our NMR results describe the distribution of lipid-bound states for alphaS: the population of the SL1 binding mode (residues 3-25 bound as a helix) is augmented by each of the disease variants, relative to wild-type alphaS. We propose that the SL1 binding mode, which anchors the N-terminus of alphaS in the lipoprotein complex while the hydrophobic NAC region remains dynamically disordered, is prone to intermolecular interactions which progress toward disease-associated oligomers and fibrils. The elevation of the SL1 binding mode, unchecked by a proportionate population of binding modes incorporating the full N-terminal domain, may well account for the increased toxicity of the A30P, E46K, and A53T disease variants of alphaS.

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