Alpha-synuclein overexpression increases phospho-protein phosphatase 2A levels via formation of calmodulin/Src complex

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Graphical abstractHighlightsα-Syn overexpression led to pPP2Ac increased and consequent phosphatase inhibition.α-Syn overexpressing showed higher calmodulin/Src complex formation.PP2A activation protected against α-Syn-induced SK-N-SH cells injury.Alpha-synuclein (α-Syn) is the principal protein component of Lewy bodies, a pathological hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD). This protein may regulate protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) activity, although the molecular mechanisms for α-Syn-mediated regulation of PP2A and the potential neuroprotective actions of PP2A against PD-associated pathology remain largely unexplored. We found that α-Syn gene overexpression in SK-N-SH cells and primary neurons led to PP2A/C phosphorylation at Y307, a known target of Src kinase, and consequent phosphatase inhibition. In addition, phospho-activated Src (p-Y416 Src, pSrc) was higher in SK-N-SH cells and primary neurons overexpressing α-Syn. Thus, α-Syn may promote Src activation and PP2A inactivation, leading to hyperphosphorylation of proteins. Immunoprecipitation revealed higher calmodulin/Src complex formation in α-Syn-overexpressing cells and α-Syn transgenic mice. A TUNEL apoptosis assay and an MTT cell viability assay demonstrated that the PP2A activator C2-ceramide protected neurons against α-Syn-induced cell injury. Buffering the Ca2+ elevations induced by α-Syn overexpression ameliorated the cytotoxicity of α-Syn. Our findings define a potential molecular mechanism for α-Syn-mediated regulation of PP2A through formation of the calmodulin/Src complex, activation of Src, and Src-mediated phospho-inhibition of PP2A. Overexpression of α-Syn may lead to neurodegeneration in PD in part by suppressing the endogenous neuroprotective activity of PP2A.

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