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α-Synuclein Promotes SNARE-Complex Assembly in Vivo and in Vitro

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Science  24 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5999, pp. 1663-1667
DOI: 10.1126/science.1195227

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α-Synuclein and Aging

Transgenic α-synuclein can reverse the otherwise lethal neurodegeneration of cysteine string protein-α knockout mice via changes in SNARE proteins, which mediate synaptic vesicle release. Using experiments with purified recombinant proteins, triple αβγ-synuclein knockout mice, and studies of mouse aging, Burré et al. (p. 1663, published online 26 August) now demonstrate that α-synuclein directly interacts with the SNARE protein synaptobrevin and functions as a catalyst for SNARE-complex assembly. The role of synucleins is fully dispensable in young animals, but becomes essential late in life, which suggests that α-synuclein maintains normal synaptic function during aging.