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J Neurosci. 2010 Feb 17;30(7):2454-63. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5983-09.2010.

Inhibition of FK506 binding proteins reduces alpha-synuclein aggregation and Parkinson's disease-like pathology.

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Laboratories of Biochemistry, Interdisciplinary Research Centre, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven-Kortrijk, Flanders, Belgium.


alpha-Synuclein (alpha-SYN) is a key player in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). In pathological conditions, the protein is present in a fibrillar, aggregated form inside cytoplasmic inclusions called Lewy bodies. Members of the FK506 binding protein (FKBP) family are peptidyl-prolyl isomerases that were shown recently to accelerate the aggregation of alpha-SYN in vitro. We now established a neuronal cell culture model for synucleinopathy based on oxidative stress-induced alpha-SYN aggregation and apoptosis. Using high-content analysis, we examined the role of FKBPs in aggregation and apoptotic cell death. FK506, a specific inhibitor of this family of proteins, inhibited alpha-SYN aggregation and neuronal cell death in this synucleinopathy model dose dependently. Knockdown of FKBP12 or FKBP52 reduced the number of alpha-SYN aggregates and protected against cell death, whereas overexpression of FKBP12 or FKBP52 accelerated both aggregation of alpha-SYN and cell death. Thus, FK506 likely targets FKBP members in the cell culture model. Furthermore, oral administration of FK506 after viral vector-mediated overexpression of alpha-SYN in adult mouse brain significantly reduced alpha-SYN aggregate formation and neuronal cell death. Our data explain previously described neuroregenerative and neuroprotective effects of immunophilin ligands and validate FKBPs as a novel drug target for the causative treatment of PD.

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