Defining α-synuclein species responsible for Parkinson's disease phenotypes in mice.
ABSTRACT: 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:The intrinsically unstructured protein alpha-synuclein (aS) is prone to misfold into cytotoxic beta-sheet-rich oligomers and amyloid fibrils that underlie the pathogenesis of Lewy body diseases such as Parkinson's disease. An important, recognized fibrillogenesis parameter is amino acid content, whereas the influence of amino acid sequence distribution is not as well understood. The fibril core of aS encompasses five regions of high beta-sheet propensity, termed beta1-beta5. Using four aS variants with identical amino acid compositions but rearranged pseudorepeat motifs, we show that beta2-beta5 sequence clustering, but not order, is important for efficient fibrillogenesis. For molecular species progressing toward the fibrillar state, order invariably increases; i.e., the spatial arrangement of sequence elements becomes restricted. By introducing disulfide bonds in a fibril structure-based manner, we demonstrated that a successful protofibril-to-fibril conversion is dependent upon the spatial arrangement of sequence elements of high beta-sheet propensity. Moreover, a disulfide-linked aS dimer is shown to fibrillize rapidly. We propose that a conformational search underlies the emergence of a fibrillar aS nucleus that is directed by gaps in sequence between beta-sheet regions and the accessible range of spatial beta-sheet arrangements in soluble, prefibrillar oligomers. On the basis of the universal cross-beta-sheet structure of amyloid fibrils, these principles are expected to apply to a wide range of amyloidogenic proteins.
Project description:Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with progressive degeneration of dopaminergic (DA) neurons. We report for the first time that the Drosophila histone deacetylase 6 (dHDAC6) plays a critical role in the protection of DA neurons and the formation of alpha-synuclein inclusions by using a Drosophila PD model constructed by ectopic expression of human alpha-synuclein. Depletion of dHDAC6 significantly enhances the effects caused by ectopic expression of alpha-synuclein, namely, loss of DA neurons, retinal degeneration, and locomotor dysfunction. Expression of alpha-synuclein in the DA neurons leads to fewer inclusions in the brains of dHDAC6 mutant flies than in wild-type flies. Conversely, overexpression of dHDAC6 is able to suppress the alpha-synuclein-induced DA neuron loss and retinal degeneration and promote inclusion formation. Furthermore, mutation of dHDAC6 reinforces the accumulation of oligomers that are suggested to be a toxic form of alpha-synuclein. We propose that alpha-synuclein inclusion formation in the presence of dHDAC6 protects DA neurons from being damaged by oligomers, which may uncover a common mechanism for synucleinopathies.
Project description: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 characterized by the death of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) and accumulation of ?-synuclein. Impaired autophagy has been implicated and activation of autophagy proposed as a treatment strategy. We generate a human ?-synuclein-expressing mouse model of PD with macroautophagic failure in dopamine neurons to understand the interaction between impaired macroautophagy and ?-synuclein. We find that impaired macroautophagy generates p62-positive inclusions and progressive neuron loss in the SNc. Despite this parkinsonian pathology, motor phenotypes accompanying human ?-synuclein overexpression actually improve with impaired macroautophagy. Real-time fast-scan cyclic voltammetry reveals that macroautophagy impairment in dopamine neurons increases evoked extracellular concentrations of dopamine, reduces dopamine uptake, and relieves paired-stimulus depression. Our findings show that impaired macroautophagy paradoxically enhances dopamine neurotransmission, improving movement while worsening pathology, suggesting that changes to dopamine synapse function compensate for and conceal the underlying PD pathogenesis, with implications for therapies that target autophagy.
Project description:Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by selective and progressive degeneration of dopamine (DA)-producing neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) and by abnormal aggregation of ?-synuclein. Previous studies have suggested that DA can interact with ?-synuclein, thus modulating the aggregation process of this protein; this interaction may account for the selective vulnerability of DA neurons in patients with PD. However, the relationship between DA and ?-synuclein, and the role in progressive degeneration of DA neurons remains elusive. We have shown that in the presence of DA, recombinant human ?-synuclein produces non-fibrillar, SDS-resistant oligomers, while ?-sheet-rich fibril formation is inhibited. Pharmacologic elevation of the cytoplasmic DA level increased the formation of SDS-resistant oligomers in DA-producing neuronal cells. DA promoted ?-synuclein oligomerization in intracellular vesicles, but not in the cytosol. Furthermore, elevation of DA levels increased secretion of ?-synuclein oligomers to the extracellular space, but the secretion of monomers was not changed. DA-induced secretion of ?-synuclein oligomers may contribute to the progressive loss of the dopaminergic neuronal population and the pronounced neuroinflammation observed in the SNpc in patients with PD.
Project description:The aggregation of alpha-synuclein is characteristic of Parkinson's disease (PD) and other neurodegenerative synucleinopathies. The 140-aa protein is natively unstructured; thus, ligands binding to the monomeric form are of therapeutic interest. Biogenic polyamines promote the aggregation of alpha-synuclein and may constitute endogenous agents modulating the pathogenesis of PD. We characterized the complexes of natural and synthetic polyamines with alpha-synuclein by NMR and assigned the binding site to C-terminal residues 109-140. Dissociation constants were derived from chemical shift perturbations. Greater polyamine charge (+2 --> +5) correlated with increased affinity and enhancement of fibrillation, for which we propose a simple kinetic mechanism involving a dimeric nucleation center. According to the analysis, polyamines increase the extent of nucleation by approximately 10(4) and the rate of monomer addition approximately 40-fold. Significant secondary structure is not induced in monomeric alpha-synuclein by polyamines at 15 degrees C. Instead, NMR reveals changes in a region (aa 22-93) far removed from the polyamine binding site and presumed to adopt the beta-sheet conformation characteristic of fibrillar alpha-synuclein. We conclude that the C-terminal domain acts as a regulator of alpha-synuclein aggregation.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by the deposition of β-sheet-rich, insoluble amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) plaques; however, plaque burden is not correlated with cognitive impairment in AD patients; instead, it is correlated with the presence of toxic soluble oligomers. Here, we show, by a variety of different techniques, that these Aβ oligomers adopt a nonstandard secondary structure, termed "α-sheet." These oligomers form in the lag phase of aggregation, when Aβ-associated cytotoxicity peaks, en route to forming nontoxic β-sheet fibrils. De novo-designed α-sheet peptides specifically and tightly bind the toxic oligomers over monomeric and fibrillar forms of Aβ, leading to inhibition of aggregation in vitro and neurotoxicity in neuroblastoma cells. Based on this specific binding, a soluble oligomer-binding assay (SOBA) was developed as an indirect probe of α-sheet content. Combined SOBA and toxicity experiments demonstrate a strong correlation between α-sheet content and toxicity. The designed α-sheet peptides are also active in vivo where they inhibit Aβ-induced paralysis in a transgenic Aβ Caenorhabditis elegans model and specifically target and clear soluble, toxic oligomers in a transgenic APPsw mouse model. The α-sheet hypothesis has profound implications for further understanding the mechanism behind AD pathogenesis.
Project description:The deposition of fibrillar alpha-synuclein (?-syn) within inclusions (Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites) in neurons and glial cells is a hallmark of synucleinopathies. ?-syn populates a variety of assemblies ranging from prefibrillar oligomeric species to fibrils whose specific contribution to neurodegeneration is still unclear. Here, we compare the specific structural and biological properties of distinct soluble prefibrillar ?-syn oligomers formed either spontaneously or in the presence of dopamine and glutaraldehyde. We show that both on-fibrillar assembly pathway and distinct dopamine-mediated and glutaraldehyde-cross-linked ?-syn oligomers are only slightly effective in perturbing cell membrane integrity and inducing cytotoxicity, while mature fibrils exhibit the highest toxicity. In contrast to low-molecular weight and unstable oligomers, large stable ?-syn oligomers seed the aggregation of soluble ?-syn within reporter cells although to a lesser extent than mature ?-syn fibrils. These oligomers appear elongated in shape. Our findings suggest that ?-syn oligomers represent a continuum of species ranging from unstable low molecular weight particles to mature fibrils via stable elongated oligomers composed of more than 15 ?-syn monomers that possess seeding capacity.
Project description:The transition of intrinsically disordered, monomeric α-synuclein into β-sheet-rich oligomers and fibrils is associated with multiple neurodegenerative diseases. Fibrillar aggregates possessing distinct structures that differ in toxicity have been observed in different pathological phenotypes. Understanding the mechanism of the formation of various fibril polymorphs with differing cytotoxic effects is essential for determining how the aggregation reaction could be modulated to favor nontoxic fibrils over toxic fibrils. In this study, two morphologically different α-synuclein fibrils, one helical and the other ribbon-like, are shown to form together. Surprisingly, a widely used small molecule for probing aggregation reactions, thioflavin T (ThT), was found to tune the structural heterogeneity found in the fibrils. The ribbon-like fibrils formed in the presence of ThT were found to have a longer structural core than the helical fibrils formed in the absence of ThT. The ribbon-like fibrils are also more toxic to cells. By facilitating the formation of ribbon-like fibrils over helical fibrils, ThT reduced the extent of fibril polymorphism. This study highlights the role of a small molecule such as ThT in selectively favoring the formation of a specific type of fibril by binding to aggregates formed early on one of multiple pathways, thereby altering the structural core and external morphology of the fibrils formed.
Project description:Parkinson's disease (PD) is one of the synucleinopathies spectrum of disorders typified by the presence of intraneuronal protein inclusions. It is primarily composed of misfolded and aggregated forms of alpha-synuclein (α-syn), the toxicity of which has been attributed to the transition from an α-helical conformation to a β-sheetrich structure that polymerizes to form toxic oligomers. This could spread and initiate the formation of "LB-like aggregates," by transcellular mechanisms with seeding and subsequent permissive templating. This hypothesis postulates that α-syn is a prion-like pathological agent and responsible for the progression of Parkinson's pathology. Moreover, the involvement of the inflammatory response in PD pathogenesis has been reported on the excessive microglial activation and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. At last, we describe several treatment approaches that target the pathogenic α-syn protein, especially the oligomers, which are currently being tested in advanced animal experiments or are already in clinical trials. However, there are current challenges with therapies that target α-syn, for example, difficulties in identifying varying α-syn conformations within different individuals as well as both the cost and need of long-duration large trials.