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The pre-synaptic protein α-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 α-synuclein gene cause familial forms of Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. We previously described a transgenic mouse line expressing truncated human α-synuclein(1-120) that develops α-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 α-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 α-synuclein(1-140) or truncated α-synuclein(1-120) was reduced. These findings reveal a novel gain of toxic function of α-synuclein at the synapse, which may be an early event in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. © 2010 The Author(s).

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2032 - 2044