bims-proned Biomed News
on Proteostasis in neurodegeneration
Issue of 2024‒03‒17
thirteen papers selected by
Verena Kohler, Umeå University

  1. Sci Rep. 2024 Mar 14. 14(1): 6239
      The accumulation of α-synuclein (α-Syn) into Lewy bodies is a hallmark of synucleinopathies, a group of neurological disorders that include Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Small oligomers as well as larger fibrils of α-Syn have been suggested to induce cell toxicity leading to a degenerative loss of neurones. A richer understanding of α-Syn aggregation in disease, however, requires the identification of the different α-Syn species and the characterisation of their biochemical properties. We here aimed at a more in-depth characterisation of the α-Syn transgenic mice, Line 62 (L62), and examined the deposition pattern and solubility of human and murine α-Syn in these mice using immunohistochemical and biochemical methods. Application of multiple antibodies confirmed mAb syn204 as the most discriminatory antibody for human α-Syn in L62. Syn204 revealed an intense and widespread immunohistochemical α-Syn labelling in parietal cortex and hippocampus, and to a lower level in basal forebrain and hindbrain regions. The labelled α-Syn represented somatic inclusions as well as processes and synaptic endings. Biochemical analysis revealed a Triton-resistant human α-Syn pool of large oligomers, a second pool of small oligomers that was not resistant to solubilization with urea/Triton. A third SDS-soluble pool of intermediate sized aggregates containing a mixture of both, human and mouse α-Syn was also present. These data suggest that several pools of α-Syn can exist in neurones, most likely in different cellular compartments. Information about these different pools is important for the development of novel disease modifying therapies aimed at α-Syn.
    Keywords:  Alpha-synuclein; Mouse model; Parkinson’s disease; Protein aggregation; Protein solubility
  2. J Cell Sci. 2024 Mar 13. pii: jcs.261935. [Epub ahead of print]
      Biogenesis of inclusion bodies (IBs) facilitates protein quality control (PQC). Canonical aggresomes execute degradation of misfolded proteins while non-degradable amyloids quarantine into Insoluble Protein Deposits. Lewy Bodies (LBs) are filamentous amyloid inclusions of α-Synuclein but PQC-benefits and drawbacks associated with LB-like IBs remain underexplored. Here, we report that a crosstalk between filamentous LB-like IBs and aggresome-like IBs of α-Synuclein (Syn-aggresomes) buffer the load, aggregation state, and turnover of the amyloidogenic protein. Filamentous LB-like IBs possess unorthodox PQC-capacities of self-quarantining α-Synuclein amyloids and being degradable upon receding fresh amyloidogenesis. Syn-aggresomes equilibrate biogenesis of filamentous LB-like IBs by facilitating spontaneous degradation of α-Synuclein and conditional turnover of disintegrated α-Synuclein amyloids. Thus, both the inclusion bodies primarily contribute to PQC. Incidentally, the overgrown perinuclear LB-like IBs turn degenerative once these are misidentified by BICD2, a cargo-adapter for cytosolic motor-protein dynein. Microscopy indicates that microtubules surrounding the perinuclear filamentous inclusions are also distorted misbalancing the cytoskeleton-nucleoskeleton tension leading to widespread lamina injuries. Together, nucleocytoplasmic mixing, DNA-damage, and deregulated transcription of stress chaperones defeat the proteostatic purposes of the filamentous amyloids of α-Synuclein.
    Keywords:  Amyloids; Inclusion bodies; Nuclear envelope injury; Proteostasis over-saturation; Syn-aggresomes; α-Synuclein
  3. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2024 Mar 11.
      TDP-43, an essential RNA/DNA-binding protein, is central to the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. Pathological mislocalization and aggregation of TDP-43 disrupt RNA splicing, mRNA stability, and mRNA transport, thereby impairing neuronal function and survival. The formation of amyloid-like TDP-43 filaments is largely facilitated by the destabilization of an α-helical segment within the disordered C-terminal region. In this study, we hypothesized that preventing the destabilization of the α-helical domain could potentially halt the growth of these pathological filaments. To explore this, we utilized a range of in silico techniques to design and evaluate peptide-based therapeutics that bind to pathological TDP-43 amyloid-like filament crystal structures and resist β sheet conversion. Our computational approaches, including biophysical and secondary structure property prediction, molecular docking, 3D structure prediction, and molecular dynamics simulations, were used to assess the structure, stability, and binding affinity of these peptides in relation to pathological TDP-43 filaments. The results of our in silico analyses identified a selection of promising peptides which displayed a stable α-helical structure, exhibited an increased number of intramolecular hydrogen bonds within the helical domain, and demonstrated high binding affinities for pathological TDP-43 amyloid-like filaments. Molecular dynamics simulations provided further support for the structural and thermodynamic stability of these peptides, as they exhibited lower root-mean-square deviation and more favorable free energy landscapes over 300 ns. These findings establish α-helical propensity peptides as potential lead molecules for the development of novel therapeutics against TDP-43 aggregation. This structure-based computational approach for the rational design of peptide inhibitors opens a new direction in the search for effective interventions for ALS, FTD, and other related neurodegenerative diseases. The peptides identified as the most promising candidates in this study are currently subject to further testing and validation through both in vitro and in vivo experiments.
    Keywords:  TDP-43; aggregation; helical propensity peptide; neurodegenerative disease
  4. J Pineal Res. 2024 Mar;76(2): e12948
      Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons and aggregation of α-synuclein (α-syn). Ferroptosis, a form of cell death induced by iron accumulation and lipid peroxidation, is involved in the pathogenesis of PD. It is unknown whether melatonin receptor 1 (MT1) modulates α-syn and ferroptosis in PD. Here, we used α-syn preformed fibrils (PFFs) to induce PD models in vivo and in vitro. In PD mice, α-syn aggregation led to increased iron deposition and ferroptosis. MT1 knockout exacerbated these changes and resulted in more DA neuronal loss and severe motor impairment. MT1 knockout also suppressed the Sirt1/Nrf2/Ho1/Gpx4 pathway, reducing resistance to ferroptosis, and inhibited expression of ferritin Fth1, leading to more release of ferrous ions. In vitro experiments confirmed these findings. Knockdown of MT1 enhanced α-syn PFF-induced intracellular α-syn aggregation and suppressed expression of the Sirt1/Nrf2/Ho1/Gpx4 pathway and Fth1 protein, thereby aggravating ferroptosis. Conversely, overexpression of MT1 reversed these effects. Our findings reveal a novel mechanism by which MT1 activation prevents α-syn-induced ferroptosis in PD, highlighting the neuroprotective role of MT1 in PD.
    Keywords:  Parkinson's disease; ferroptosis; melatonin receptor 1; α-synuclein
  5. Adv Neurobiol. 2024 ;36 365-384
      Neurodegenerative diseases are defined by progressive nervous system dysfunction and death of neurons. The abnormal conformation and assembly of proteins is suggested to be the most probable cause for many of these neurodegenerative disorders, leading to the accumulation of abnormally aggregated proteins, for example, amyloid β (Aβ) (Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia), tau protein (Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration), α-synuclein (Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia), polyglutamine expansion diseases (Huntington disease), or prion proteins (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). An aberrant gain-of-function mechanism toward excessive intraparenchymal accumulation thus represents a common pathogenic denominator in all these proteinopathies. Moreover, depending upon the predominant brain area involvement, these different neurodegenerative diseases lead to either movement disorders or dementia syndromes, although the underlying mechanism(s) can sometimes be very similar, and on other occasions, clinically similar syndromes can have quite distinct pathologies. Non-Euclidean image analysis approaches such as fractal dimension (FD) analysis have been applied extensively in quantifying highly variable morphopathological patterns, as well as many other connected biological processes; however, their application to understand and link abnormal proteinaceous depositions to other clinical and pathological features composing these syndromes is yet to be clarified. Thus, this short review aims to present the most important applications of FD in investigating the clinical-pathological spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases.
    Keywords:  Amyloid plaques; Cerebral blood flow; Cortical atrophy; Demyelination; Electroencephalogram; Fractal dimension; Gate analysis
  6. Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Feb 27. pii: 2727. [Epub ahead of print]25(5):
      New data suggest that the aggregation of misfolded native proteins initiates and drives the pathogenic cascade that leads to Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other age-related neurodegenerative disorders. We propose a unifying single toxin theory of brain neurodegeneration that identifies new targets and approaches to the development of disease-modifying treatments. An extensive body of genetic evidence suggests soluble aggregates of beta-amyloid (Aβ) as the primary neurotoxin in the pathogenesis of AD. New insights from fluid biomarkers, imaging, and clinical studies provide further evidence for the decisive impact of toxic Aβ species in the initiation and progression of AD. Understanding the distinct roles of soluble and insoluble amyloid aggregates on AD pathogenesis has been the key missing piece of the Alzheimer's puzzle. Data from clinical trials with anti-amyloid agents and recent advances in the diagnosis of AD demonstrate that the driving insult in biologically defined AD is the neurotoxicity of soluble Aβ aggregates, called oligomers and protofibrils, rather than the relatively inert insoluble mature fibrils and amyloid plaques. Amyloid oligomers appear to be the primary factor causing the synaptic impairment, neuronal stress, spreading of tau pathology, and eventual cell death that lead to the clinical syndrome of AD dementia. All other biochemical effects and neurodegenerative changes in the brain that are observed in AD are a response to or a downstream effect of this initial toxic insult by oligomers. Other neurodegenerative disorders follow a similar pattern of pathogenesis, in which normal brain proteins with important biological functions become trapped in the aging brain due to impaired clearance and then misfold and aggregate into neurotoxic species that exhibit prion-like behavior. These aggregates then spread through the brain and cause disease-specific neurodegeneration. Targeting the inhibition of this initial step in neurodegeneration by blocking the misfolding and aggregation of healthy proteins has the potential to slow or arrest disease progression, and if treatment is administered early in the course of AD and other neurodegenerative disorders, it may delay or prevent the onset of clinical symptoms.
    Keywords:  ALZ-801; APOE4; Alzheimer’s disease; aducanumab; beta-amyloid oligomers; disease modification; donanemab; lecanemab; neurodegeneration; protofibrils; valiltramiprosate
  7. bioRxiv. 2024 Mar 01. pii: 2024.02.26.582120. [Epub ahead of print]
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a common debilitating neurodegenerative disease with limited treatment options. Amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau fibrils are well-established hallmarks of AD, which can induce oxidative stress, neuronal cell death, and are linked to disease pathology. Here, we describe the effects of Oolonghomobisflavan A (OFA) and Oolonghomobisflavan B (OFB) on tau fibril disaggregation and prionogenic seeding. Transcriptomic analysis of OF-treated animals reveals the induction of a proteostasis-enhancing and health-promoting signature. OFA treatment reduced the burden of Tau protein aggregation in a C. elegans model expressing pathogenic human tau ("hTau-expressing") and promoted Tau disaggregation and inhibited seeding in assays using ex vivo brain-derived paired helical filament tau protein fibrils from Alzheimer's disease brain donors. Correspondingly, treatment with OF improved multiple fitness and aging-related health parameters in the hTau-expressing C. elegans model, including reproductive output, muscle function, and importantly, reversed the shortened lifespan stemming from pathogenic Tau expression. Collectively, this study provides new evidence supporting the neuroprotective effects of OFs and reveal a new therapeutic strategy for targeting AD and other neurodegenerative diseases characterized by tauopathy.
  8. Res Sq. 2024 Feb 21. pii: [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondrial dysfunction is a central aspect of Parkinson's disease (PD) pathology, yet the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. This study investigates the link between α-Synuclein (α-Syn) pathology and the loss of translocase of the outer mitochondrial membrane 40 (TOM40), unraveling its implications for mitochondrial dysfunctions in neurons. We discovered that TOM40 protein depletion occurs in the brains of patients with Guam Parkinsonism Dementia (Guam PD) and cultured neurons expressing α-Syn proteinopathy, notably, without corresponding changes in TOM40 mRNA levels. Cultured neurons expressing α-Syn mutants, with or without a mitochondria-targeting signal (MTS) underscore the role of α-Syn's mitochondrial localization in inducing TOM40 degradation. Parkinson's Disease related etiological factors, such as 6-hydroxy dopamine or ROS/metal ions stress, which promote α-Syn oligomerization, exacerbate TOM40 depletion in PD patient-derived cells with SNCA gene triplication. Although α-Syn interacts with both TOM40 and TOM20 in the outer mitochondrial membrane, degradation is selective for TOM40, which occurs via the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) pathway. Our comprehensive analyses using Seahorse technology, mitochondrial DNA sequencing, and damage assessments, demonstrate that mutant α-Syn-induced TOM40 loss results in mitochondrial dysfunction, characterized by reduced membrane potential, accumulation of mtDNA damage, deletion/insertion mutations, and altered oxygen consumption rates. Notably, ectopic supplementation of TOM40 or reducing pathological forms of α-Syn using ADP-ribosylation inhibitors ameliorate these mitochondrial defects, suggesting potential therapeutic avenues. In conclusion, our findings provide crucial mechanistic insights into how α-Syn accumulation leads to TOM40 degradation and mitochondrial dysfunction, offering insights for targeted interventions to alleviate mitochondrial defects in PD.
  9. Biomol NMR Assign. 2024 Mar 11.
      Human small EDRK-rich factor protein SERF2 is a cellular driver of protein amyloid formation, a process that has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. SERF2 is a 59 amino acid protein, highly charged, and well conserved whose structure and physiological function is unclear. SERF family proteins including human SERF2 have shown a tendency to form fuzzy complexes with misfolded proteins such as α-Synuclein which has been linked to Parkinson's disease. SERF family proteins have been recently identified to bind nucleic acids, but the binding mechanism(s) remain enigmatic. Here, using multidimensional solution NMR, we report the 1H, 15N, and 13C chemical shift assignments (~ 86% of backbone resonance assignments) for human SERF2. TALOS-N predicted secondary structure of SERF2 showed three very short helices (3-4 residues long) in the N-terminal region of the protein and a long helix in the C-terminal region spanning residues 37-46 which is consistent with the helical content indicated by circular dichroism spectroscopy. Paramagnetic relaxation enhancement NMR analysis revealed that a short C-terminal region E53-K55 is in the proximity of the N-terminus. Having the backbone assignment of SERF2 allowed us to probe its interaction with α-Synuclein and to identify the residues in SERF2 binding interfaces that likely promote α-Synuclein aggregation.
    Keywords:  Amyloid; NMR; Paramagnetic relaxation enhancement; SERF; α-Synuclein
  10. Front Pharmacol. 2024 ;15 1363212
      Both continuous oxidative stress and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP-1) activation occur in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease. PARP-1 inhibition can reverse mitochondrial damage and has a neuroprotective effect. In a previous study, we synthesized melatonin derivative 6a (MD6a) and reported that it has excellent antioxidant activity and significantly reduces α-synuclein aggregation in Caenorhabditis elegans; however, the underlying mechanism is largely unknown. In the present study, we revealed that MD6a is a potential PARP-1 inhibitor, leading to mammalian targe of rapamycin/heat shock factor 1 signaling downregulation and reducing heat shock protein 4 and 6 expression, thus helping to maintain protein homeostasis and improve mitochondrial function. Together, these findings suggest that MD6a might be a viable candidate for the prevention and treatment of Parkinson's disease.
    Keywords:  PARP-1; Parkinson’s disease; mTOR; melatonin derivative; mitochondrial dysfunction
  11. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2024 Mar 14.
      Although cigarette aerosol exposure is associated with various adverse health issues, its impact on Parkinson's disease (PD) remains elusive. Here, we investigated the effect of cigarette aerosol extract (CAE) on SH-SY5Y cells for the first time, both with and without α-synuclein (α-Syn) overexpression. We found that α-Syn aggravates CAE-induced cell death, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy (FCCS) revealed a dual distribution of α-Syn within the cells, with homogeneous regions indicative of monomeric α-Syn and punctated regions, suggesting the formation of oligomers. Moreover, we observed colocalization of α-Syn oligomers with lysosomes along with a reduction in autophagy activity. These findings suggest that α-Syn overexpression exacerbates CAE-induced intracellular cytotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction, and autophagy dysregulation, leading to elevated cell mortality. Our findings provide new insights into the pathogenic mechanisms linking exposure to cigarette aerosols with neurodegenerative diseases.
    Keywords:  Parkinson’s disease; autophagy activity; cigarette aerosol; fluorescence correlation spectroscopy; particulate matter; α-synuclein oligomerization
  12. bioRxiv. 2024 Mar 03. pii: 2024.03.01.582895. [Epub ahead of print]
      The coacervation and structural rearrangement of the protein alpha-synuclein (αSyn) into cytotoxic oligomers and amyloid fibrils are considered pathological hallmarks of Parkinson's disease. While aggregation is recognized as the key element of amyloid diseases, liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) and its interplay with aggregation have gained increasing interest. Previous work showed that factors promoting or inhibiting amyloid formation have similar effects on phase separation. Here, we provide a detailed scanning of a wide range of parameters including protein, salt and crowding concentrations at multiple pH values, revealing different salt dependencies of aggregation and phase separation. The influence of salt on aggregation under crowded conditions follows a non-monotonic pattern, showing increased effects at medium salt concentrations. This behavior can be elucidated through a combination of electrostatic screening and salting-out effects on the intramolecular interactions between the N-terminal and C-terminal regions of αSyn. By contrast, we find a monotonic salt dependence of phase separation due to the intermolecular interaction. Furthermore, we observe the time evolution of the two distinct assembly states, with macroscopic fibrillar-like bundles initially forming at medium salt concentration but subsequently converting into droplets after prolonged incubation. The droplet state is therefore capable of inhibiting aggregation or even dissolving the aggregates through a variety of heterotypic interactions, thus preventing αSyn from its dynamically arrested state.
  13. Structure. 2024 Mar 01. pii: S0969-2126(24)00049-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Protein misfolding is common to neurodegenerative diseases (NDs) including Alzheimer's disease (AD), which is partly characterized by the self-assembly and accumulation of amyloid-beta in the brain. Lysosomes are a critical component of the proteostasis network required to degrade and recycle material from outside and within the cell and impaired proteostatic mechanisms have been implicated in NDs. We have previously established that toxic amyloid-beta oligomers are endocytosed, accumulate in lysosomes, and disrupt the endo-lysosomal system in neurons. Here, we use pioneering correlative cryo-structured illumination microscopy and cryo-soft X-ray tomography imaging techniques to reconstruct 3D cellular architecture in the native state revealing reduced X-ray density in lysosomes and increased carbon dense vesicles in oligomer treated neurons compared with untreated cells. This work provides unprecedented visual information on the changes to neuronal lysosomes inflicted by amyloid beta oligomers using advanced methods in structural cell biology.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer'sdisease; amyloid; correlative imaging; cryo-soft X-ray tomography; lysosomes; neurons; oligomers; ultrastructure