The Biochemical journal 2017 05 11() pii 10.1042/BCJ20170200
Misfolded α-synuclein/A-syn is widely recognized as primal cause of neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s and dementia with Lewy bodies. The normal cellular function of A-syn has however been elusive. There is evidence that A-syn plays a variety of roles in the exocytotic pathway in the neuron, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are unclear. A-syn has been known to interact with negatively charged phospholipids and with vesicle SNARE protein VAMP2 as well. Using single vesicle-vesicle docking/fusion assays, we find that A-syn promotes SNARE-dependent vesicles docking significantly at 2.5 µM. When phosphatidylserine (PS) is removed from t-SNARE-bearing vesicles the docking enhancement by A-syn disappears and A-syn instead acts as an inhibitor for docking. In contrast, subtraction of PS from the v-SNARE-carrying vesicles enhances vesicle docking even further. Moreover, when we truncate the C-terminal 45 residues of A-syn that participates in interacting with VAMP2 the promotion of vesicle docking is abrogated. Thus, the results suggest that the A-syn’s interaction with v-SNARE through its C-terminal tail and its concurrent interaction with PS in trans through its amphipathic N-terminal domain facilitate SNARE complex formation, whereby A-syn aids SNARE-dependent vesicle docking.