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Genome research

The synuclein family.


PMID 9750188

Abstract

The synuclein gene family recently came into the spotlight, when one of its members, alpha-synuclein, was found to be mutated in several families with autosomal dominant Parkinson's disease (PD). A peptide of the alpha-synuclein protein had been characterized previously as a major component of amyloid plaques in brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The mechanism by which this presynaptic protein is involved in the two most common neurodegenerative disorders, AD and PD, remains unclear. Remarkably, another member of this gene family, gamma-synuclein, has been shown to be overexpressed in breast carcinomas and may also be overexpressed in ovarian cancer. The possible involvement of the synuclein proteins in the etiology of common human diseases has raised exciting questions and is the subject of intense investigation. Details of the properties of any member of the synuclein family may provide useful information for understanding the characteristics and function of other family members. The present review offers a synopsis of the current state of knowledge of all synuclein family members in different species.