Alpha-synuclein Inhibits Snx3–retromer-mediated Retrograde Recycling of Iron Transporters in S. cerevisiae and C. elegans Models of Parkinson’s Disease

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alpha-synuclein, dopaminergic neurons, nerve degeneration, yeasts, tissue membrane, catabolism

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We probed the role of alpha-synuclein (α-syn) in modulating sorting nexin 3 (Snx3)-retromer-mediated recycling of iron transporters in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Caenorhabditis elegans. In yeast, the membrane-bound heterodimer Fet3/Ftr1 is the high affinity iron importer. Fet3 is a membrane-bound multicopper ferroxidase, whose ferroxidase domain is orthologous to human ceruloplasmin (Cp), that oxidizes external Fe+2 to Fe+3; the Fe+3 ions then channel through the Ftr1 permease into the cell. When the concentration of external iron is low (<1 µM), Fet3/Ftr1 is maintained on the plasma membrane by retrograde endocytic-recycling; whereas, when the concentration of external iron is high (>10 µM), Fet3/Ftr1 is endocytosed and shunted to the vacuole for degradation. We discovered that α-syn expression phenocopies the high iron condition: under the low iron condition (<1 µM), α-syn inhibits Snx3–retromer-mediated recycling of Fet3/Ftr1 and instead shunts Fet3/Ftr1 into the multivesicular body pathway to the vacuole. α-Syn inhibits recycling by blocking the association of Snx3-mCherry molecules with endocytic vesicles, possibly by interfering with the binding of Snx3 to phosphatidylinositol-3-monophosphate. In C. elegans, transgenic worms expressing α-syn exhibit an age-dependent degeneration of dopaminergic neurons that is partially rescued by the iron chelator desferoxamine. This implies that α-syn-expressing dopaminergic neurons are susceptible to changes in iron neurotoxicity with age, whereby excess iron enhances α-syn-induced neurodegeneration. In vivo genetic analysis indicates that α-syn dysregulates iron homeostasis in worm dopaminergic neurons, possibly by inhibiting SNX-3-mediated recycling of a membrane-bound ortholog of Cp (F21D5.3), the iron exporter ferroportin (FPN1.1), or both.

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Human Molecular Genetics, v. 27, issue 9, p. 1514-1532