Overexpression of alpha-synuclein down-regulates BDNF expression.
ABSTRACT Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder characterized by the selective loss of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. However, the molecular pathways leading to the dopaminergic neuron degeneration have remained obscure until recently. Reports demonstrated that reduction of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) was involved in the etiology and pathogenesis of PD, but its mechanism has not been elucidated. alpha-Synuclein has a causal role in Parkinson's disease, and could interfere with transcriptional regulation of dopamine neurons. In this study, alpha-synuclein overexpression was found to decrease the expression of BDNF, and also to suppress the transactivation of nuclear factors of activated T-cells (NFAT) and cAMP response element binding protein (CREB), both of which regulate BDNF expression. Furthermore, overexpressed alpha-synuclein could associate with protein kinase C (PKC) and impair its activity. Meanwhile glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK3beta) was activated and extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) activity was inhibited by overexpression of alpha-synuclein; both of them were downstream kinases of PKC. Therefore, the impaired PKC signal pathway caused by alpha-synuclein overexpression might account at least partially for the down-regulation of BDNF.