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Autophagy. 2020 May;16(5):878-899. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2019.1643657. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

Reducing INS-IGF1 signaling protects against non-cell autonomous vesicle rupture caused by SNCA spreading.

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Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University (ZMBH) and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance, Heidelberg, Germany.
Department of Molecular Physiology and Cell Biology, Leibniz-Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP) im Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V, Berlin, Germany.
Department of Biology, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL, USA.


Aging is associated with a gradual decline of cellular proteostasis, giving rise to devastating protein misfolding diseases, such as Alzheimer disease (AD) or Parkinson disease (PD). These diseases often exhibit a complex pathology involving non-cell autonomous proteotoxic effects, which are still poorly understood. Using Caenorhabditis elegans we investigated how local protein misfolding is affecting neighboring cells and tissues showing that misfolded PD-associated SNCA/α-synuclein is accumulating in highly dynamic endo-lysosomal vesicles. Irrespective of whether being expressed in muscle cells or dopaminergic neurons, accumulated proteins were transmitted into the hypodermis with increasing age, indicating that epithelial cells might play a role in remote degradation when the local endo-lysosomal degradation capacity is overloaded. Cell biological and genetic approaches revealed that inter-tissue dissemination of SNCA was regulated by endo- and exocytosis (neuron/muscle to hypodermis) and basement membrane remodeling (muscle to hypodermis). Transferred SNCA conformers were, however, inefficiently cleared and induced endo-lysosomal membrane permeabilization. Remarkably, reducing INS (insulin)-IGF1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) signaling provided protection by maintaining endo-lysosomal integrity. This study suggests that the degradation of lysosomal substrates is coordinated across different tissues in metazoan organisms. Because the chronic dissemination of poorly degradable disease proteins into neighboring tissues exerts a non-cell autonomous toxicity, this implies that restoring endo-lysosomal function not only in cells with pathological inclusions, but also in apparently unaffected cell types might help to halt disease progression.Abbreviations: AD: Alzheimer disease; BM: basement membrane; BWM: body wall muscle; CEP: cephalic sensilla; CLEM: correlative light and electron microscopy; CTNS-1: cystinosin (lysosomal protein) homolog; DA: dopaminergic; DAF-2: abnormal dauer formation; ECM: extracellular matrix; FLIM: fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy; fps: frames per second; GFP: green fluorescent protein; HPF: high pressure freezing; IGF1: insulin-like growth factor 1; INS: insulin; KD: knockdown; LMP: lysosomal membrane permeabilization; MVB: multivesicular body; NOC: nocodazole; PD: Parkinson disease; RFP: red fluorescent protein; RNAi: RNA interference; sfGFP: superfolder GFP; SNCA: synuclein alpha; TEM: transmission electron microscopy; TNTs: tunneling nanotubes; TCSPC: time correlated single photon counting; YFP: yellow fluorescent protein.


Alpha-synuclein; aging; intercellular spreading; lysosomal homeostasis; lysosomal membrane permeabilization; neurodegenerative diseases; non-cell autonomous toxicity; proteostasis

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