Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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Two Different Binding Modes of α-Synuclein to Lipid Vesicles Depending on its Aggregation State

Biophys J. 2012 Apr 4;102(7):1646-55. Epub 2012 Apr 3

Authors/Editors: Högen T
Levin J
Schmidt F
Caruana M
Vassallo N
Kretzschmar H
Bötzel K
Kamp F
Giese A
Publication Date: 2012
Type of Publication: Journal Article
Aggregation of α-synuclein is involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). Studies of in vitro aggregation of α-synuclein are rendered complex because of the formation of a heterogeneous population of oligomers. With the use of confocal single-molecule fluorescence techniques, we demonstrate that small aggregates (oligomers) of α-synuclein formed from unbound monomeric species in the presence of organic solvent (DMSO) and iron (Fe(3+)) ions have a high affinity to bind to model membranes, regardless of the lipid-composition or membrane curvature. This binding mode contrasts with the well-established membrane binding of α-synuclein monomers, which is accompanied with α-helix formation and requires membranes with high curvature, defects in the lipid packing, and/or negatively charged lipids. Additionally, we demonstrate that membrane-bound α-synuclein monomers are protected from aggregation. Finally, we identified compounds that potently dissolved vesicle-bound α-synuclein oligomers into monomers, leaving the lipid vesicles intact. As it is commonly believed that formation of oligomers is related PD progression, such compounds may provide a promising strategy for the design of novel therapeutic drugs in Parkinson's disease.

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