FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Using leucine zipper to facilitate alpha-synuclein assembly.

PMID 18492724


The accumulation of filamentous alpha-synuclein (alpha-S) is associated with Parkinson's disease. It remains controversial as to the mode (antiparallel or parallel) of alpha-S self-assembly and whether an exact alignment of the central hydrophobic region is essential. In the present study, we performed in vitro assembly using alpha-S with or without the attachment of artificial leucine zippers (Zips) capable of forming either parallel or antiparallel coiled coils and included a spacer in one derivative. Results showed that Zips accelerate filament assembly in both the parallel and antiparallel fashions, that a precise alignment of the central hydrophobic region is not essential, and that the antiparallel pairs displayed the highest thioflavin T signals. More importantly, cells expressing Zip-fused alpha-S, but not alpha-S alone, formed alpha-S immunopositive and thioflavin S-positive inclusions in 7 days. The results suggest that alpha-S can assemble in both parallel and antiparallel modes but have a higher tendency to assemble in the latter mode and that cells overexpressing Zip-fused alpha-S may be used to screen alpha-S assembly inhibitors due to enhanced ability to form inclusions.