The nuclear accumulation of alpha-synuclein is mediated by importin alpha and promotes neurotoxicity by accelerating the cell cycle

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α-Synuclein (α-syn), a 14 kDa pre-synaptic protein, is widely involved in the Parkinson's disease (PD) pathogenesis. Recent studies have shown that the nuclear accumulation of α-syn might have a toxic effect. The main purpose of the present study was to explore which amino acid residues in α-syn are associated with its nuclear accumulation, the molecule(s) mediated the nuclear import of α-syn, and the role of α-syn accumulated in the nucleus. It has been noted that the nuclear import of α-syn may be mediated by importin α and that both the amino acid residues 1–60 and 103–140 of α-syn were indispensable for its nuclear import. After imported into the nucleus, the accumulated α-syn played a toxic role in both the PC12 cells and the C57 mice. Furthermore, α-syn-nuclear localization signal-injected mice showed behavioral symptoms associated with PD. Further studies performed in vitro showed that the toxicity of α-syn in the nucleus might be due to an interference of the cell cycle. Thus, it can be concluded that α-syn can accumulate in nucleus, which is mediated by importin α, and promote neurotoxicity by accelerating the cell cycle.

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