Forebrain overexpression of α-synuclein leads to early postnatal hippocampal neuron loss and synaptic disruption
ABSTRACT Transgenic (Tg) mouse models of Parkinson's disease (PD) generated to date have primarily been designed to overexpress human alpha-synuclein (α-syn) to recapitulate PD-like motor impairments as well as PD-like nigrostriatal degeneration and α-syn pathology. However, cognitive impairments and cortical α-syn pathology are also common in PD patients. To model these features of PD, we created forebrain-specific conditional Tg mice that overexpress human wild type (WT) or A53T mutant α-syn. Here we show that both WT and A53T mutant α-syn lead to massive degeneration of postmitotic neurons in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) during postnatal development, with hippocampal synapse loss as evidenced by reduced levels of pre- and postsynaptic markers. However, when mutant and WT α-syn expression was repressed until the Tg mice were mature postnatally and then induced for several months, no hippocampal neuron loss was observed. These data imply that developing neurons are more vulnerable to degenerate than mature neurons as a consequence of forebrain WT and mutant α-syn overexpression.
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ABSTRACT: Conversion of soluble α-synuclein into insoluble and fibrillar inclusions is a hallmark of Parkinson's disease and other synucleinopathies. Accumulating evidence points towards a relationship between its generation at nerve terminals and structural synaptic pathology. Little is known about the pathogenic impact of α-synuclein conversion and deposition at nigrostriatal dopaminergic synapses in transgenic mice, mainly owing to expression limitations of the α-synuclein construct. Here, we explore whether both the rat as a model and expression of the bacterial artificial chromosome construct consisting of human full-length wild-type α-synuclein could exert dopaminergic neuropathological effects. We found that the human promoter induced a pan-neuronal expression, matching the rodent α-synuclein expression pattern, however, with prominent C-terminally truncated fragments. Ageing promoted conversion of both full-length and C-terminally truncated α-synuclein species into insolube and proteinase K-resistant fibres, with strongest accumulation in the striatum, resembling biochemical changes seen in human Parkinson's disease. Transgenic rats develop early changes in novelty-seeking, avoidance and smell before the progressive motor deficit. Importantly, the observed pathological changes were associated with severe loss of the dopaminergic integrity, thus resembling more closely the human pathology.Brain 02/2013; 136(Pt 2):412-32. · 10.23 Impact Factor