Project 2: Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration in alpha-Synuclein Transgenic Mice. While the causes of Parkinson's disease (PD) is not known, genetic and biochemical abnormalities of alpha- synuclein are directly implicated in the pathogenesis PD and other alpha-synucleinopathies. Transgenic (Tg) mice expressing the A53T mutant human alpha-synuclein develop adult-onset disease with a progressive motoric dysfunction leading to death. The affected mice exhibit many of the features of human alpha- synucleinopathies, including aberrant aggregation of a-Syn and neurodegeneration in subcortical regions. Characterization of alpha-synucleinopathy in Tg mice reveal signs of oxidative stress, including mitochondrial abnormalities. Because both mitochondrial abnormalities and oxidative stress are implicated in the pathogenesis of PD and other a-synucleinopathies, we will examine the pathological relationships between oxidative stress and alpha-synucleinopathies in Hua-Syn Tg mice.
First (Aim 1), we will determine whether the disease in the Tg mice is associated with oxidative stress, particularly associated with mitochondrial abnormalities.
Second (Aims 2 and 3), we will test if oxidative stress act in concert with alpha-synuclein abnormalities exacerbate alpha-synuclein pathology and neurodegeneration. Finally, we hypothesize that oxidative stress causes activation of c-Abl and c-Abl activation directly participates in the disease. We will show that alpha-synuclein pathology is associated with c-Abl activation in mice and in human PD cases. We will show that lack of c-Abl function attenuates neurodegeneration in alpha-synuclein Tg mice. Finally, we will show that c-Abl phosphorylates alpha-synuclein and such alpha-synuclein is preferentially found associated with the aggregates. In addition, we will collaborate with Project 1 to determine if alpha- synuclein pathology leads to defects in parkin function and with Project 3 to determine linke between mutant LRRK2 and alpha-synuclein pathology in vivo. These studies will provide in vivo experimental tests of processes that are directly relevant to the pathogenesis of human alpha-synucleinopathies and may lead to new therapeutic approaches.
Alpha-synuclein abnormalities are implicated as the events responsible for cell death in PD and other related diseases. Thus, understanding how alpha-synuclein abnormalities cause neuronal death in brain will provide better understanding about PD and may lead to therapeutic approaches that will target the underlying processes that are responsible for PD.
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