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The pre-synaptic protein alpha-synuclein is the main component of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, the defining neuropathological characteristics of Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. Mutations in the alpha-synuclein gene cause familial forms of Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. We previously described a transgenic mouse line expressing truncated human alpha-synuclein(1-120) that develops alpha-synuclein aggregates, striatal dopamine deficiency and reduced locomotion, similar to Parkinson's disease. We now show that in the striatum of these mice, as in Parkinson's disease, synaptic accumulation of alpha-synuclein is accompanied by an age-dependent redistribution of the synaptic SNARE proteins SNAP-25, syntaxin-1 and synaptobrevin-2, as well as by an age-dependent reduction in dopamine release. Furthermore, the release of FM1-43 dye from PC12 cells expressing either human full-length alpha-synuclein(1-140) or truncated alpha-synuclein(1-120) was reduced. These findings reveal a novel gain of toxic function of alpha-synuclein at the synapse, which may be an early event in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/brain/awq132

Type

Journal article

Journal

Brain

Publication Date

07/2010

Volume

133

Pages

2032 - 2044

Keywords

Aged, Animals, Disease Models, Animal, Exocytosis, Humans, Infant, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Transgenic, Middle Aged, Parkinson Disease, SNARE Proteins, Synapses, alpha-Synuclein