Role of α-synuclein in neurodegeneration: implications for the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease

Essays in Biochemistry
Shun Yu, Piu Chan

Abstract

α-Syn (α-synuclein) is a small soluble acidic protein that is extensively expressed in the nervous system. Genetic, clinical and experimental studies demonstrate that α-syn is strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of PD (Parkinson's disease). However, the pathogenic mechanism remains elusive. In the present chapter, we first describe the normal expression and potential physiological functions of α-syn. Then, we introduce recent research progress related to the pathogenic role of α-syn in PD, with special emphasis on how α-syn oligomers cause the preferential degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra and the spreading of α-syn pathology in the brain of PD patients.

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