α-Synuclein (αS) deposition is a defining characteristic of Parkinson’s disease (PD) pathology, and other synucleinopathies. αS aggregates in disease, leading to the generation of neuronal inclusions known as Lewy bodies. These accumulate in the cytoplasmic space of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta region of the brain, causing cell death, resulting in decreased dopamine levels, and ultimately PD symptoms. To date, a significant proportion of structural information has arisen from in vitro studies using recombinantly purified forms of the protein, often failing to acknowledge that αS is natively located in the presence of phospholipids, where it likely plays a direct role in regulating synaptic vesicle function and neurotransmission. Here we present a series of macromolecular αS assemblies not previously described that form in the presence of lipid vesicles. These fibrillar structures are striking in both their large size relative to those previously reported and by their varying helical content, from ribbons to wave-like helices of long pitch shortening to those more compact and bulkier. These studies provide the foundation for more detailed structural analysis, and may offer new possibilities to further define disease-relevant versions of the protein that are accessible to pharmacological intervention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience