α-Synuclein and Aging

Science Signaling  28 Sep 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 141, pp. ec303
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3141ec303

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. 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.

J. Burré, M. Sharma, T. Tsetsenis, V. Buchman, M. R. Etherton, T. C. Südhof, α-Synuclein promotes SNARE-complex assembly in vivo and in vitro. Science 329, 1663–1667 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]