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Disruptive membrane interactions of alpha-synuclein aggregates

Iyer, Aditya, Claessens, Mireille M.A.E.
Biochimica et biophysica acta 2019 v.1867 no.5 pp. 468-482
Parkinson disease, amyloid, cell membranes, phospholipids, physicochemical properties, point mutation, post-translational modification, protective effect
Alpha synuclein (αS) is a ~14 kDa intrinsically disordered protein. Decades of research have increased our knowledge on αS yet its physiological function remains largely elusive. The conversion of monomeric αS into oligomers and amyloid fibrils is believed to play a central role of the pathology of Parkinson's disease (PD). It is becoming increasingly clear that the interactions of αS with cellular membranes are important for both αS's functional and pathogenic actions. Therefore, understanding interactions of αS with membranes seems critical to uncover functional or pathological mechanisms. This review summarizes our current knowledge of how physicochemical properties of phospholipid membranes affect the binding and aggregation of αS species and gives an overview of how post-translational modifications and point mutations in αS affect phospholipid membrane binding and protein aggregation. We discuss the disruptive effects resulting from the interaction of αS aggregate species with membranes and highlight current approaches and hypotheses that seek to understand the pathogenic and/or protective role of αS in PD.