Low molar excess of 4-oxo-2-nonenal and 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal promote oligomerization of alpha-synuclein through different pathways

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Aggregated alpha-synuclein is the main component of Lewy bodies, intraneuronal inclusions found in brains with Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. A body of evidence implicates oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of these diseases. For example, a large excess (30:1, aldehyde:protein) of the lipid peroxidation end products 4-oxo-2-nonenal (ONE) or 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE) can induce alpha-synuclein oligomer formation. The objective of the study was to investigate the effect of these reactive aldehydes on alpha-synuclein at a lower molar excess (3:1) at both physiological (7.4) and acidic (5.4) pH. As observed by size-exclusion chromatography, ONE rapidly induced the formation of alpha-synuclein oligomers at both pH values, but the effect was less pronounced under the acidic condition. In contrast, only a small proportion of alpha-synuclein oligomers were formed with low excess HNE-treatment at physiological pH and no oligomers at all under the acidic condition. With prolonged incubation times (up to 96 h), more alpha-synuclein was oligomerized at physiological pH for both ONE and HNE. As determined by Western blot, ONE-oligomers were more SDS-stable and to a higher-degree cross-linked as compared to the HNE-induced oligomers. However, as shown by their greater sensitivity to proteinase K treatment, ONE-oligomers, exhibited a less compact structure than HNE-oligomers. As indicated by mass spectrometry, ONE modified most Lys residues, whereas HNE primarily modified the His50 residue and fewer Lys residues, albeit to a higher degree than ONE. Taken together, our data show that the aldehydes ONE and HNE can modify alpha-synuclein and induce oligomerization, even at low molar excess, but to a higher degree at physiological pH and seemingly through different pathways.

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