Familial Parkinson mutant α-synuclein causes dopamine neuron dysfunction in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans

Tomoki Kuwahara, Akihiko Koyama, Keiko Gengyo-Ando, Mayumi Masuda, Hisatomo Kowa, Makoto Tsunoda, Shohei Mitani, Takeshi Iwatsubo

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Mutations in α-synuclein gene cause familial form of Parkinson disease, and deposition of wild-type α-synuclein as Lewy bodies occurs as a hallmark lesion of sporadic Parkinson disease and dementia with Lewy bodies, implicating α-synuclein in the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease and related neurodegenerative diseases. Dopamine neurons in substantia nigra are the major site of neurodegeneration associated with α-synuclein deposition in Parkinson disease. Here we establish transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans (TG worms) that overexpresses wild-type or familial Parkinson mutant human α-synuclein in dopamine neurons. The TG worms exhibit accumulation of α-synuclein in the cell bodies and neurites of dopamine neurons, and EGFP labeling of dendrites is often diminished in TG worms expressing familial Parkinson disease-linked A30P or A53T mutant α-synuclein, without overt loss of neuronal cell bodies. Notably, TG worms expressing A30P or A53T mutant α-synuclein show failure in modulation of locomotory rate in response to food, which has been attributed to the function of dopamine neurons. This behavioral abnormality was accompanied by a reduction in neuronal dopamine content and was treatable by administration of dopamine. These phenotypes were not seen upon expression of β-synuclein. The present TG worms exhibit dopamine neuron-specific dysfunction caused by accumulation of α-synuclein, which would be relevant to the genetic and compound screenings aiming at the elucidation of pathological cascade and therapeutic strategies for Parkinson disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-340
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Jan 6
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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