Journal article

Stable  -Synuclein Oligomers Strongly Inhibit Chaperone Activity of the Hsp70 System by Weak Interactions with J-domain Co-chaperones

alpha-Synuclein aggregation and accumulation in Lewy bodies are implicated in progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson disease and related disorders. In neurons, the Hsp70s and their Hsp40-like J-domain co-chaperones are the only known components of chaperone network that can use ATP to convert cytotoxic protein aggregates into harmless natively refolded polypeptides. Here we developed a protocol for preparing a homogeneous population of highly stable beta-sheet enriched toroid-shaped alpha-Syn oligomers with a diameter typical of toxic pore-forming oligomers. These oligomers were partially resistant to in vitro unfolding by the bacterial Hsp70 chaperone system (DnaK, DnaJ, GrpE). Moreover, both bacterial and human Hsp70/Hsp40 unfolding/refolding activities of model chaperone substrates were strongly inhibited by the oligomers but, remarkably, not by unstructured alpha-Syn monomers even in large excess. The oligomers acted as a specific competitive inhibitor of the J-domain co-chaperones, indicating that J-domain co-chaperones may preferably bind to exposed bulky misfolded structures in misfolded proteins and, thus, complement Hsp70s that bind to extended segments. Together, our findings suggest that inhibition of the Hsp70/Hsp40 chaperone system by alpha-Syn oligomers may contribute to the disruption of protein homeostasis in dopaminergic neurons, leading to apoptosis and tissue loss in Parkinson disease and related neurodegenerative diseases.

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