Molecular Mechanism for the Suppression of Alpha Synuclein Membrane Toxicity by an Unconventional Extracellular Chaperone
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Alpha synuclein (αS) oligomers are a key component of Lewy bodies implicated in Parkinson's disease (PD). Although primarily intracellular, extracellular αS exocytosed from neurons also contributes to PD pathogenesis through a prion-like transmission mechanism. Here, we show at progressive degrees of resolution that the most abundantly expressed extracellular protein, human serum albumin (HSA), inhibits αS oligomer (αSn) toxicity through a three-pronged mechanism. First, endogenous HSA targets αSn with sub-μM affinity via solvent-exposed hydrophobic sites, breaking the catalytic cycle that promotes αS self-association. Second, HSA remodels αS oligomers and high-MW fibrils into chimeric intermediates with reduced toxicity. Third, HSA unexpectedly suppresses membrane interactions with the N-terminal and central αS regions. Overall, our findings suggest that the extracellular proteostasis network may regulate αS cell-to-cell transmission not only by reducing the populations of membrane-binding competent αS oligomers but possibly also by shielding the membrane interface from residual toxic species.