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The role of alpha-synuclein in Parkinson's disease].

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Neuropsychopharmacol Hung 2014 Jun; 16(2):77-84

Authors: Ildiko Miklya, Noemi Pencz, Florencia Hafenscher, Patricia Goltl

?-synuclein, a small protein (140 amino acids) encoded by the SNCA gene is the best known isoform of the synuclein protein family. Though its physiological role is still not fully clarified, there is growing experimental evidence for a causal role of ?-synuclein in the so-called conformational-neurodegenerative diseases. Conformational changes in the structure of the native soluble protein form insoluble neurotoxic aggregates and finally contribute to the formation of inclusion Lewy-bodies and Lewy-neurites. Neurodegeneration first hits the olfactory system, the peripheral autonomic nervous system, the enteric nervous system and the dorsal vagal motoneurons. The middle stage of the disease hits the dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra; and the neocortex is affected only in the late stage of the disease. This precise order of neurodegeneration is not always valid, but increases the likelihood that Lewy-bodies and neurodegenaration spread to intact areas in a prion-like way. Prions are infectious proteins which do not contain nucleic acids and cause diseases because they form toxic aggregates and filaments by misfolding in a ?-sheet-rich conformation. The misfolded protein behaves like a template inducing conformational change in the wild type proteins causing cross-reaction and leading to neurodegeneration. Later, the defective proteins may infect healthy nerve cells, thus neurodegeneration is extended. Growing experimental evidence shows that monomers and aggregates of ?-synuclein are secreted via exocytosis from damaged nerve cells and taken up via endocytosis by healthy nerve cells furnishing evidence for the prion-like role of ?-synuclein.

PMID: 24978050 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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