Publication Details

Whiten, D., Cox, D., Horrocks, M. H., Taylor, C. G., De, S., Flagmeier, P., Tosatto, L., Kumita, J. R., Ecroyd, H., Dobson, C. M., Klenerman, D. & Wilson, M. R. (2018). Single-Molecule Characterization of the Interactions between Extracellular Chaperones and Toxic α-Synuclein Oligomers. Cell Reports, 23 3492-3500.


The aberrant aggregation of α-synuclein is associated with several human diseases, collectively termed the α-synucleinopathies, which includes Parkinson's disease. The progression of these diseases is, in part, mediated by extracellular α-synuclein oligomers that may exert effects through several mechanisms, including prion-like transfer, direct cytotoxicity, and pro-inflammatory actions. In this study, we show that two abundant extracellular chaperones, clusterin and α2-macroglobulin, directly bind to exposed hydrophobic regions on the surface of α-synuclein oligomers. Using single-molecule fluorescence techniques, we found that clusterin, unlike α2-macroglobulin, exhibits differential binding to α-synuclein oligomers that may be related to structural differences between two previously described forms of αS oligomers. The binding of both chaperones reduces the ability of the oligomers to permeabilize lipid membranes and prevents an oligomer-induced increase in ROS production in cultured neuronal cells. Taken together, these data suggest a neuroprotective role for extracellular chaperones in suppressing the toxicity associated with α-synuclein oligomers. Whiten et al. report that the extracellular chaperones clusterin and α2-macroglobulin bind directly to regions of exposed hydrophobicity on the surface of α-synuclein oligomers. This binding significantly reduces the ability of the oligomers to permeabilize lipid membranes and stimulate the production of reactive oxygen species in a neuronal cell line.

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