Expression of α-synuclein is regulated in a neuronal cell type-dependent manner.Anat Sci Int. 2019 Jan; 94(1):11-22.AS
α-Synuclein, the major component of Lewy bodies (LBs) and Lewy neurites (LNs), is expressed in presynapses under physiologically normal conditions and is involved in synaptic function. Abnormal intracellular aggregates of misfolded α-synuclein such as LBs and LNs are pathological hallmarks of synucleinopathies, including Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). According to previous studies using pathological models overexpressing α-synuclein, high expression of this protein in neurons is a critical risk factor for neurodegeneration. Therefore, it is important to know the endogenous expression levels of α-synuclein in each neuronal cell type. We previously reported differential expression profiles of α-synuclein in vitro and in vivo. In the wild-type mouse brain, particularly in vulnerable regions affected during the progression of idiopathic PD, α-synuclein is highly expressed in neuronal cell bodies of some early PD-affected regions, such as the olfactory bulb, the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, and the substantia nigra pars compacta. Synaptic expression of α-synuclein is mostly accompanied by expression of vesicular glutamate transporter-1, an excitatory synapse marker protein. In contrast, α-synuclein expression in inhibitory synapses differs among brain regions. Recently accumulated evidence indicates the close relationship between differential expression profiles of α-synuclein and selective vulnerability of certain neuronal populations. Further studies on the regulation of α-synuclein expression will help to understand the mechanism of LB pathology and provide an innovative therapeutic strategy to prevent PD and DLB onset.