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J Biol Chem. 2011 Apr 22;286(16):14168-77. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.222430. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

Role of matrix metalloproteinase 3-mediated alpha-synuclein cleavage in dopaminergic cell death.

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Neurology/Neuroscience Department, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York 10065, USA.


Evidence suggests that the C-terminal truncation of α-synuclein is equally important as aggregation of α-synuclein in Parkinson disease (PD). Our previous results showed that an endopeptidase, matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP3), was induced and activated in dopaminergic (DA) cells upon stress conditions. Here, we report that MMP3 cleaved α-synuclein in vitro and in vivo and that α-synuclein and MMP3 were co-localized in Lewy bodies (LB) in the postmortem brains of PD patients. Incubation of α-synuclein with the catalytic domain of MMP3 (cMMP3) resulted in generation of several peptides, and the peptide profiles of WT α-synuclein (WTsyn) and A53T mutant (A53Tsyn) were different. Combined analysis using mass spectrometry and N-terminal determination revealed that MMP3 generated C-terminally truncated peptides of amino acids 1-78, 1-91, and 1-93 and that A53Tsyn produced significantly higher quantities of these peptides. Similar sizes of peptides were detected in N27 DA cells under oxidative stress and RNA interference to knock down MMP3-attenuated peptide generation. Co-overexpression of cMMP3 with either WTsyn or A53Tsyn led to a reduction in Triton X-100-insoluble aggregates and an increase in protofibril-like small aggregates. In addition, overexpression of the 1-93-amino acid peptide in the substantia nigra led to DA neuronal loss without LB-like aggregate formation. The results strongly indicate that MMP3 digestion of α-synuclein in DA neurons plays a pivotal role in the progression of PD through modulation of α-synuclein in aggregation, LB formation, and neurotoxicity.

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