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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience - Physiology - Surgery

Alpha-Synuclein Cell-to-Cell Transfer and Seeding in Grafted Dopaminergic Neurons In Vivo
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012
Author: Elodie Angot et al.

by Elodie Angot, Jennifer A. Steiner, Carla M. Lema Tomé, Peter Ekström, Bengt Mattsson, Anders Björklund, Patrik Brundin

Several people with Parkinson’s disease have been treated with intrastriatal grafts of fetal dopaminergic neurons. Following autopsy, 10–22 years after surgery, some of the grafted neurons contained Lewy bodies similar to those observed in the host brain. Numerous studies have attempted to explain these findings in cell and animal models. In cell culture, a-synuclein has been found to transfer from one cell to another, via mechanisms that include exosomal transport and endocytosis, and in certain cases seed aggregation in the recipient cell. In animal models, transfer of a-synuclein from host brain cells to grafted neurons has been shown, but the reported frequency of the event has been relatively low and little is known about the underlying mechanisms as well as the fate of the transferred a-synuclein. We now demonstrate frequent transfer of a-synuclein from a rat brain engineered to overexpress human a-synuclein to grafted dopaminergic neurons. Further, we show that this model can be used to explore mechanisms underlying cell-to-cell transfer of a-synuclein. Thus, we present evidence both for the involvement of endocytosis in a-synuclein uptake in vivo, and for seeding of aggregation of endogenous a-synuclein in the recipient neuron by the transferred a-synuclein. Finally, we show that, at least in a subset of the studied cells, the transmitted a-synuclein is sensitive to proteinase K. Our new model system could be used to test compounds that inhibit cell-to-cell transfer of a-synuclein and therefore might retard progression of Parkinson neuropathology.
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