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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 1136-1144

Subcellular localization of alpha-synuclein aggregates and their interaction with membranes

1 Bio@SNS Laboratory, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa; Department of Pharmacy, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
2 Bio@SNS Laboratory, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy

Correspondence Address:
Emanuela Colla
Bio@SNS Laboratory, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa
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Source of Support: This work has been supported by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR) through the Career Reintegration grant scheme (RLM Program for Young Researcher) and from Scuola Normale Superiore, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1673-5374.235013

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For more than a decade numerous evidence has been reported on the mechanisms of toxicity of α-synuclein (αS) oligomers and aggregates in α-synucleinopathies. These species were thought to form freely in the cytoplasm but recent reports of αS multimer conformations when bound to synaptic vesicles in physiological conditions, have raised the question about where αS aggregation initiates. In this review we focus on recent literature regarding the impact on membrane binding and subcellular localization of αS toxic species to understand how regular cellular function of αS contributes to pathology. Notably αS has been reported to mainly associate with specific membranes in neurons such as those of synaptic vesicles, ER/Golgi and the mitochondria, while toxic species of αS have been shown to inhibit, among others, neurotransmission, protein trafficking and mitochondrial function. Strategies interfering with αS membrane binding have shown to improve αS-driven toxicity in worms and in mice. Thus, a selective membrane binding that would result in a specific subcellular localization could be the key to understand how aggregation and pathology evolves, pointing out to αS functions that are primarily affected before onset of irreversible damage.

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