α-Synuclein Toxicity

Viewing a killer in action

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Science  15 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6283, pp. 305-306
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6283.305-d

The pathological deposition of aberrant protein aggregates and fibrils is associated with a variety of neurodegenerative disorders. The protein α-synuclein is implicated in Parkinson's disease. Pinotsi et al. used super-resolution imaging to visualize α-synuclein as it formed aggregates in neuronal cells in culture. First they introduced pre-formed fibrils of α-synuclein and saw the endogenous soluble protein adding onto the fibrils. This process did not seem to harm the cells; however, when they added exogenous monomeric α-synuclein, it formed aggregates within the cells, which killed them. Thus, a-synuclein fibrils seem to be protective rather than harmful to neurons—at least in culture.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1516546113 (2016).

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