Alpha-synuclein (aSyn) misfolding and aggregation are pathological features common to several neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease (PD). Mounting evidence suggests that aSyn can be secreted and transferred from cell to cell, participating in the propagation and spreading of pathological events. Rab11, a small GTPase, is an important regulator in both endocytic and secretory pathways. Here, we show that Rab11 is involved in regulating aSyn secretion. Rab11 knockdown or overexpression of either Rab11a wild-type (Rab11a WT) or Rab11a GDP-bound mutant (Rab11a S25N) increased secretion of aSyn. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Rab11 interacts with aSyn and is present in intracellular inclusions together with aSyn. Moreover, Rab11 reduces aSyn aggregation and toxicity. Our results suggest that Rab11 is involved in modulating the processes of aSyn secretion and aggregation, both of which are important mechanisms in the progression of aSyn pathology in PD and other synucleinopathies.
The cellular hallmarks of Parkinson's disease (PD) are the loss of nigral dopaminergic neurons and the formation of ?-synuclein-enriched Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites in the remaining neurons. Based on the topographic distribution of Lewy bodies established after autopsy of brains from PD patients, Braak and coworkers hypothesized that Lewy pathology primes in the enteric nervous system and spreads to the brain, suggesting an active retrograde transport of ?-synuclein (the key protein component in Lewy bodies), via the vagal nerve. This hypothesis, however, has not been tested experimentally thus far. Here, we use a human PD brain lysate containing different forms of ?-synuclein (monomeric, oligomeric and fibrillar), and recombinant ?-synuclein in an in vivo animal model to test this hypothesis. We demonstrate that ?-synuclein present in the human PD brain lysate and distinct recombinant ?-synuclein forms are transported via the vagal nerve and reach the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus in the brainstem in a time-dependent manner after injection into the intestinal wall. Using live cell imaging in a differentiated neuroblastoma cell line, we determine that both slow and fast components of axonal transport are involved in the transport of aggregated ?-synuclein. In conclusion, we here provide the first experimental evidence that different ?-synuclein forms can propagate from the gut to the brain, and that microtubule-associated transport is involved in the translocation of aggregated ?-synuclein in neurons.
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