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Yeast Reveal a “Druggable” Rsp5/Nedd4 Network that Ameliorates α-Synuclein Toxicity in Neurons

Science  22 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6161, pp. 979-983
DOI: 10.1126/science.1245321

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From Yeast to Therapeutic?

Yeast has shown some promise as a model system to generate lead compounds that could have therapeutic potential for the cellular problems associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Along these lines, Tardiff et al. (p. 979, published online 24 October) and Chung et al. (p. 983, published online 24 October) describe the results of multiple screens in yeast that lead to the identification of a potential therapeutic compound to combat the cytotoxic affect of α-synuclein accumulation. The compound was able to reverse the pathological hallmarks of Parkinson's disease in cultured neurons derived from patients with α-synuclein–induced Parkinson's disease dementia.

Abstract

α-Synuclein (α-syn) is a small lipid-binding protein implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, whose pathobiology is conserved from yeast to man. There are no therapies targeting these underlying cellular pathologies, or indeed those of any major neurodegenerative disease. Using unbiased phenotypic screens as an alternative to target-based approaches, we discovered an N-aryl benzimidazole (NAB) that strongly and selectively protected diverse cell types from α-syn toxicity. Three chemical genetic screens in wild-type yeast cells established that NAB promoted endosomal transport events dependent on the E3 ubiquitin ligase Rsp5/Nedd4. These same steps were perturbed by α-syn itself. Thus, NAB identifies a druggable node in the biology of α-syn that can correct multiple aspects of its underlying pathology, including dysfunctional endosomal and endoplasmic reticulum–to-Golgi vesicle trafficking.

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