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Acta Neuropathol. 2015 May;129(5):695-713. doi: 10.1007/s00401-015-1408-1. Epub 2015 Mar 17.

Extracellular vesicle sorting of α-Synuclein is regulated by sumoylation.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medicine Göttingen, Von-Siebold-Str. 5, 37075, Göttingen, Germany.


Extracellular α-Synuclein has been implicated in interneuronal propagation of disease pathology in Parkinson's Disease. How α-Synuclein is released into the extracellular space is still unclear. Here, we show that α-Synuclein is present in extracellular vesicles in the central nervous system. We find that sorting of α-Synuclein in extracellular vesicles is regulated by sumoylation and that sumoylation acts as a sorting factor for targeting of both, cytosolic and transmembrane proteins, to extracellular vesicles. We provide evidence that the SUMO-dependent sorting utilizes the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) by interaction with phosphoinositols. Ubiquitination of cargo proteins is so far the only known determinant for ESCRT-dependent sorting into the extracellular vesicle pathway. Our study reveals a function of SUMO protein modification as a Ubiquitin-independent ESCRT sorting signal, regulating the extracellular vesicle release of α-Synuclein. We deciphered in detail the molecular mechanism which directs α-Synuclein into extracellular vesicles which is of highest relevance for the understanding of Parkinson's disease pathogenesis and progression at the molecular level. We furthermore propose that sumo-dependent sorting constitutes a mechanism with more general implications for cell biology.

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