Beta-amyloid peptides enhance alpha-synuclein accumulation and neuronal deficits in a transgenic mouse model linking Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease are associated with the cerebral accumulation of beta-amyloid and alpha-synuclein, respectively. Some patients have clinical and pathological features of both diseases, raising the possibility of overlapping pathogenetic pathways. We generated transgenic (tg) mice with neuronal expression of human beta-amyloid peptides, alpha-synuclein, or both. The functional and morphological alterations in doubly tg mice resembled the Lewy-body variant of Alzheimer's disease. These mice had severe deficits in learning and memory, developed motor deficits before alpha-synuclein singly tg mice, and showed prominent age-dependent degeneration of cholinergic neurons and presynaptic terminals. They also had more alpha-synuclein-immunoreactive neuronal inclusions than alpha-synuclein singly tg mice. Ultrastructurally, some of these inclusions were fibrillar in doubly tg mice, whereas all inclusions were amorphous in alpha-synuclein singly tg mice. beta-Amyloid peptides promoted aggregation of alpha-synuclein in a cell-free system and intraneuronal accumulation of alpha-synuclein in cell culture. beta-Amyloid peptides may contribute to the development of Lewy-body diseases by promoting the aggregation of alpha-synuclein and exacerbating alpha-synuclein-dependent neuronal pathologies. Therefore, treatments that block the production or accumulation of beta-amyloid peptides could benefit a broader spectrum of disorders than previously anticipated.
Project description:Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by fibrillar neuronal inclusions composed of aggregated α-synuclein (α-syn). These inclusions are associated with behavioral and pathological PD phenotypes. One strategy for therapeutic interventions is to prevent the formation of these inclusions to halt disease progression. α-Synuclein exists in multiple structural forms, including disordered, nonamyloid oligomers, ordered amyloid oligomers, and fibrils. It is critical to understand which conformers contribute to specific PD phenotypes. Here, we utilized a mouse model to explore the pathological effects of stable β-amyloid-sheet oligomers compared with those of fibrillar α-synuclein. We biophysically characterized these species with transmission EM, atomic-force microscopy, CD spectroscopy, FTIR spectroscopy, analytical ultracentrifugation, and thioflavin T assays. We then injected these different α-synuclein forms into the mouse striatum to determine their ability to induce PD-related phenotypes. We found that β-sheet oligomers produce a small but significant loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc). Injection of small β-sheet fibril fragments, however, produced the most robust phenotypes, including reduction of striatal dopamine terminals, SNc loss of dopamine neurons, and motor-behavior defects. We conclude that although the β-sheet oligomers cause some toxicity, the potent effects of the short fibrillar fragments can be attributed to their ability to recruit monomeric α-synuclein and spread in vivo and hence contribute to the development of PD-like phenotypes. These results suggest that strategies to reduce the formation and propagation of β-sheet fibrillar species could be an important route for therapeutic intervention in PD and related disorders.
Project description:Glial cytoplasmic inclusions (GCIs) containing aggregated and hyperphosphorylated α-synuclein are the signature neuropathological hallmark of multiple system atrophy (MSA). Native α-synuclein can adopt a prion conformation that self-propagates and spreads throughout the brain ultimately resulting in neurodegeneration. A growing body of evidence argues that, in addition to oligodendrocytes, astrocytes contain α-synuclein inclusions in MSA and other α-synucleinopathies at advanced stages of disease. To study the role of astrocytes in MSA, we added MSA brain homogenate to primary cultures of astrocytes from transgenic (Tg) mouse lines expressing human α-synuclein. Astrocytes from four Tg lines, expressing either wild-type or mutant (A53T or A30P) human α-synuclein, propagated and accumulated α-synuclein prions. Furthermore, we found that MSA-infected astrocytes formed two morphologically distinct α-synuclein inclusions: filamentous and granular. Both types of cytoplasmic inclusions shared several features characteristic of α-synuclein inclusions in synucleinopathies: hyperphosphorylation preceded by aggregation, ubiquitination, thioflavin S-positivity, and co-localization with p62. Our findings demonstrate that human α-synuclein forms distinct inclusion morphologies and propagates within cultured Tg astrocytes exposed to MSA prions, indicating that α-synuclein expression determines the tropism of inclusion formation in certain cells. Thus, our work may prove useful in elucidating the role of astrocytes in the pathogenic mechanisms that feature in neurodegeneration caused by MSA prions.
Project description:The factors initiating or contributing to the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease and related neurodegenerative synucleinopathies are still largely unclear, but environmental factors such as pesticides have been implicated. In this study, A53T mutant human alpha-synuclein transgenic mice (M83), which develop alpha-synuclein neuropathology, were treated with the pesticides paraquat and maneb (either singly or together), and their effects were analyzed. Immunohistochemical and biochemical analyses showed that chronic treatment of M83 transgenic mice with both pesticides (but not with either pesticide alone) drastically increased neuronal alpha-synuclein pathology throughout the central nervous system including the hippocampus, cerebellum, and sensory and auditory cortices. alpha-Synuclein-associated mitochondrial degeneration was observed in M83 but not in wild-type alpha-synuclein transgenic mice. Because alpha-synuclein inclusions accumulated in pesticide-exposed M83 transgenic mice without a motor phenotype, we conclude that alpha-synuclein aggregate formation precedes disease onset. These studies support the notion that environmental factors causing nitrative damage are closely linked to mechanisms underlying the formation of alpha-synuclein pathologies and the onset of Parkinson's-like neurodegeneration.
Project description:Deposition of plaques containing amyloid beta (Abeta) peptides is a neuropathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here we demonstrate that neuronal overexpression of the epsilon isozyme of PKC decreases Abeta levels, plaque burden, and plaque-associated neuritic dystrophy and reactive astrocytosis in transgenic mice expressing familial AD-mutant forms of the human amyloid precursor protein (APP). Compared with APP singly transgenic mice, APP/PKCepsilon doubly transgenic mice had decreased Abeta levels but showed no evidence for altered cleavage of APP. Instead, PKCepsilon overexpression selectively increased the activity of endothelin-converting enzyme, which degrades Abeta. The activities of other Abeta-degrading enzymes, insulin degrading enzyme and neprilysin, were unchanged. These results indicate that increased neuronal PKCepsilon activity can promote Abeta clearance and reduce AD neuropathology through increased endothelin-converting enzyme activity.
Project description:Multiple interactive domains are involved in the activity of the stress protein, alphaB crystallin that protects against the unfolding, aggregation, and toxicity of amyloidogenic proteins. Six peptides corresponding to the interactive sequences 41STSLSPFYLRPPSFLRAP58, 73DRFSVNLDVKHFS85, 101HGKHEERQDE110, 113FISREFHR120, 131LTITSSLSSDGV142, and 156ERTIPITRE164 in human alphaB crystallin were synthesized and evaluated in Thioflavin T fluorescence assays for their effects on the modulation of fibrillation of four disease-related amyloidogenic proteins: amyloid-beta, alpha-synuclein, transthyretin, and beta2-microglobulin. The 73DRFSVNLDVKHFS85 and 101HGKHEERQDE110 peptides in the conserved alpha crystallin core domain of alphaB crystallin were the most effective fibril inhibitors. 73DRFSVNLDVKHFS85 completely inhibited alpha-synuclein fibrillation and reduced the fibrillation of amyloid-beta, transthyretin, and beta2-microglobulin by >50%. 101HGKHEERQDE110 completely inhibited amyloid-beta fibrillation and reduced the fibrillation of alpha-synuclein, transthyretin, and beta2-microglobulin by >50%. The peptides FSVN, NLDV, HGKH, and HEER, which are synthetic fragments of 73DRFSVNLDVKHFS85 and 101HGKHEERQDE110, inhibited fibrillation of all four amyloidogenic proteins by >75%. In contrast, the peptides FISREFHR, ERTIPITRE, DRFS, KHFS, and EERQ were the strongest promoters of fibrillation. Molecular modeling of the interactions between transthyretin and beta2-microglobulin and the synthetic bioactive peptides determined that residues Phe-75, Ser-76, Val-77, Asn-78, Leu-79, and Asp-80 in 73DRFSVNLDVKHFS85 and residues His-101, Lys-103, His-104, Glu-105, and Arg-107 in 101HGKHEERQDE110 interact with exposed residues in the beta strands, F and D of transthyretin and beta2-microglobulin, respectively, to modulate fibrillation. This is the first characterization of specific bioactive peptides synthesized on the basis of interactive domains in the small heat shock protein, alphaB crystallin that protect against the fibrillation of amyloidogenic proteins.
Project description:Alpha-synuclein inclusions, the hallmarks of synucleinopathies, are suggested to spread along neuronal connections in a stereotypical pattern in the brains of patients. Ample evidence now supports that pathological forms of alpha-synuclein propagate in cell culture models and in vivo in a prion-like manner. However, it is still not known why the same pathological protein targets different cell populations, propagates with different kinetics and leads to a variety of diseases (synucleinopathies) with distinct clinical features. The aggregation of the protein alpha-synuclein yields different conformational polymorphs called strains. These strains exhibit distinct biochemical, physical and structural features they are able to imprint to newly recruited alpha-synuclein. This had led to the view that the clinical heterogeneity observed in synucleinopathies might be due to distinct pathological alpha-synuclein strains.To investigate the pathological effects of alpha-synuclein strains in vivo, we injected five different pure strains we generated de novo (fibrils, ribbons, fibrils-65, fibrils-91, fibrils-110) into the olfactory bulb of wild-type female mice. We demonstrate that they seed and propagate pathology throughout the olfactory network within the brain to different extents. We show strain-dependent inclusions formation in neurites or cell bodies. We detect thioflavin S-positive inclusions indicating the presence of mature amyloid aggregates.In conclusion, alpha-synuclein strains seed the aggregation of their cellular counterparts to different extents and spread differentially within the central nervous system yielding distinct propagation patterns. We provide here the proof-of-concept that the conformation adopted by alpha-synuclein assemblies determines their ability to amplify and propagate in the brain in vivo. Our observations support the view that alpha-synuclein polymorphs may underlie different propagation patterns within human brains.
Project description:Zinc finger-like protein that regulates apoptosis (Zfra) is a naturally occurring 31-amino-acid protein. Synthetic peptides Zfra1-31 and Zfra4-10 are known to effectively block the growth of many types of cancer cells.Ten-month-old triple-transgenic (3×Tg) mice for Alzheimer's disease (AD) received synthetic Zfra peptides via tail vein injections, followed by examining restoration of memory deficits.Zfra significantly downregulated TRAPPC6AΔ, SH3GLB2, tau, and amyloid β (Αβ) aggregates in the brains of 3×Tg mice and effectively restored their memory capabilities. Zfra inhibited melanoma-induced neuronal death in the hippocampus and plaque formation in the cortex. Mechanistically, Zfra blocked the aggregation of amyloid β 42 and many serine-containing peptides in vitro, suppressed tumor necrosis factor-mediated NF-κB activation, and bound cytosolic proteins for accelerating their degradation in ubiquitin/proteasome-independent manner.Zfra peptides exhibit a strong efficacy in blocking tau aggregation and amyloid Αβ formation and restore memory deficits in 3×Tg mice, suggesting its potential for treatment of AD.
Project description:The role of alpha-synuclein in pathogenesis of familial and idiopathic forms of Parkinson's disease, and other human disorders known as alpha-synucleinopathies, is well established. In contrast, the involvement of two other members of the synuclein family, beta-synuclein and gamma-synuclein, in the development and progression of neurodegeneration is poorly studied. However, there is a growing body of evidence that alpha-synuclein and beta-synuclein have opposite neuropathophysiological effects. Unlike alpha-synuclein, overexpressed beta-synuclein does not cause pathological changes in the nervous system of transgenic mice and even ameliorates the pathology caused by overexpressed alpha-synuclein. To assess the consequences of excess expression of the third family member, gamma-synuclein, on the nervous system we generated transgenic mice expressing high levels of mouse gamma-synuclein under control of Thy-1 promoter. These animals develop severe age- and transgene dose-dependent neuropathology, motor deficits and die prematurely. Histopathological changes include aggregation of gamma-synuclein, accumulation of various inclusions in neuronal cell bodies and processes, and astrogliosis. These changes are seen throughout the nervous system but are most prominent in the spinal cord where they lead to loss of spinal motor neurons. Our data suggest that down-regulation of small heat shock protein HSPB1 and disintegration of neurofilament network play a role in motor neurons dysfunction and death. These findings demonstrate that gamma-synuclein can be involved in neuropathophysiological changes and the death of susceptible neurons suggesting the necessity of further investigations of the potential role of this synuclein in disease.
Project description:Familial Danish dementia (FDD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease with cerebral deposition of Dan-amyloid (ADan), neuroinflammation, and neurofibrillary tangles, hallmark characteristics remarkably similar to those in Alzheimer's disease (AD). We have generated transgenic (tg) mouse models of familial Danish dementia that exhibit the age-dependent deposition of ADan throughout the brain with associated amyloid angiopathy, microhemorrhage, neuritic dystrophy, and neuroinflammation. Tg mice are impaired in the Morris water maze and exhibit increased anxiety in the open field. When crossed with TauP301S tg mice, ADan accumulation promotes neurofibrillary lesions, in all aspects similar to the Tau lesions observed in crosses between beta-amyloid (Abeta)-depositing tg mice and TauP301S tg mice. Although these observations argue for shared mechanisms of downstream pathophysiology for the sequence-unrelated ADan and Abeta peptides, the lack of codeposition of the two peptides in crosses between ADan- and Abeta-depositing mice points also to distinguishing properties of the peptides. Our results support the concept of the amyloid hypothesis for AD and related dementias, and suggest that different proteins prone to amyloid formation can drive strikingly similar pathogenic pathways in the brain.
Project description:BACKGROUND: alpha-Synuclein is a Parkinson's-disease-related protein. It forms aggregates in vivo, and these aggregates cause cell cytotoxicity. Aggregation inhibitors are expected to reduce alpha-synuclein cytotoxicity, and an aggregation accelerator has recently been reported to reduce alpha-synuclein cytotoxicity. Therefore, amyloid aggregation modulating ligands are expected to serve as therapeutic medicines. RESULTS: We screened peptide ligands against alpha-synuclein by in silico panning, a method which we have proposed previously. In this study, we selected as the target a very hydrophobic region known as the amyloid-core-forming region. Since this region cannot be dissolved in water, it is difficult to carry out the in vitro screening of its peptide ligand. We carried out 6 rounds of in silico panning using a genetic algorithm and a docking simulation. After the in silico panning, we evaluated the top peptides screened in silico by in vitro assay. These peptides were capable of binding to alpha-synuclein. CONCLUSION: We demonstrated that it is possible to screen alpha-synuclein-binding peptides by in silico panning. The screened peptides bind to alpha-synuclein, thus affecting the aggregation of alpha-synuclein.