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DNA Cell Biol. 2016 Nov;35(11):643-645. Epub 2016 Sep 15.

Alpha-Synuclein, a Novel Viral Restriction Factor Hiding in Plain Sight.

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1 Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine , Aurora, Colorado.
2 Department of Neurology, University of Colorado School of Medicine , Aurora, Colorado.
3 Department of Immunology and Microbiology, University of Colorado Graduate School , Aurora, Colorado.


Alpha-synuclein (α-syn) is a highly conserved protein encoded by the SNCA gene and is expressed uniquely in neurons of both the central and peripheral nervous systems (CNS and PNS). α-Syn is known to cause sporadic and familial forms of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, the role for neuronal expression of α-syn in the first place remains unknown. We review and discuss recently published work that suggests a novel role for α-syn expression in neurons as a restriction factor that inhibits virus transmission from the PNS to the CNS. The potential new role for α-syn expression as a virus inhibitor may provide new approaches to understand the pathogenesis of PD and provide novel approaches to prevent and treat this common neurodegenerative disease.


Parkinson's disease; alpha-synuclein; encephalitis; virus

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