Send to

Choose Destination
Sci Transl Med. 2012 Dec 5;4(163):163ra156. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004676.

α-Synuclein-induced down-regulation of Nurr1 disrupts GDNF signaling in nigral dopamine neurons.

Author information

Wallenberg Neuroscience Center, Department of Experimental Medical Sciences, Lund University, BMC A11, Lund 22184, Sweden.


Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and its close relative neurturin are currently in clinical trials for neuroprotection in patients with Parkinson disease (PD). However, in animal models of PD, GDNF fails to protect nigral dopamine (DA) neurons against α-synuclein-induced neurodegeneration. Using viral vector delivery of human wild-type α-synuclein to nigral DA neurons in rats, we show that the intracellular response to GDNF is blocked in DA neurons that overexpress α-synuclein. This block is accompanied by reduced expression of the transcription factor Nurr1 and its downstream target, the GDNF receptor Ret. We found that Ret expression was also reduced in nigral DA neurons in PD patients. Conditional knockout of Nurr1 in mice resulted in reduced Ret expression and blockade of the response to GDNF, whereas overexpression of Nurr1 restored signaling, providing protection of nigral DA neurons against α-synuclein toxicity. These results suggest that Nurr1 is a regulator of neurotrophic factor signaling and a key player in the cellular defense against α-synuclein toxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center