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J Neurosci. 2012 Oct 24;32(43):15227-42. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3545-12.2012.

Systematic mutagenesis of α-synuclein reveals distinct sequence requirements for physiological and pathological activities.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-5453, USA. burre@stanford.edu

Abstract

α-Synuclein is an abundant presynaptic protein that binds to phospholipids and synaptic vesicles. Physiologically, α-synuclein functions as a SNARE-protein chaperone that promotes SNARE-complex assembly for neurotransmitter release. Pathologically, α-synuclein mutations and α-synuclein overexpression cause Parkinson's disease, and aggregates of α-synuclein are found as Lewy bodies in multiple neurodegenerative disorders ("synucleinopathies"). The relation of the physiological functions to the pathological effects of α-synuclein remains unclear. As an initial avenue of addressing this question, we here systematically examined the effect of α-synuclein mutations on its physiological and pathological activities. We generated 26 α-synuclein mutants spanning the entire molecule, and analyzed them compared with wild-type α-synuclein in seven assays that range from biochemical studies with purified α-synuclein, to analyses of α-synuclein expression in cultured neurons, to examinations of the effects of virally expressed α-synuclein introduced into the mouse substantia nigra by stereotactic injections. We found that both the N-terminal and C-terminal sequences of α-synuclein were required for its physiological function as SNARE-complex chaperone, but that these sequences were not essential for its neuropathological effects. In contrast, point mutations in the central region of α-synuclein, referred to as nonamyloid β component (residues 61-95), as well as point mutations linked to Parkinson's disease (A30P, E46K, and A53T) increased the neurotoxicity of α-synuclein but did not affect its physiological function in SNARE-complex assembly. Thus, our data show that the physiological function of α-synuclein, although protective of neurodegeneration in some contexts, is fundamentally distinct from its neuropathological effects, thereby dissociating the two activities of α-synuclein.

PMID:
23100443
PMCID:
PMC3506191
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3545-12.2012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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