| J Neurosci IF 6 A53T Mutant Alpha-Synuclein Induces Tau-Dependent Postsynaptic Impairment Independently of Neurodegenerative Changes.
Teravskis PJ, Covelo A, Miller EC, Singh B, Martell-Martinez HA, Benneyworth MA, Gallardo C, Oxnard BR, Araque A, Lee MK, Liao D
Abnormalities in alpha-synuclein are implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). Because alpha-synuclein is highly concentrated within presynaptic terminals, presynaptic dysfunction has been proposed as a potential pathogenic mechanism. Here, we report novel, tau-dependent, postsynaptic deficits caused by A53T mutant alpha-synuclein, which is linked to familial PD. We analyzed synaptic activity in hippocampal slices and cultured hippocampal neurons from transgenic mice of either sex expressing human WT, A53T, and A30P alpha-synuclein. Increased alpha-synuclein expression leads to decreased spontaneous synaptic vesicle release regardless of genotype. However, only those neurons expressing A53T alpha-synuclein exhibit postsynaptic dysfunction, including decreased miniature postsynaptic current amplitude and decreased AMPA to NMDA receptor current ratio. We also found that long-term potentiation and spatial learning were impaired by A53T alpha-synuclein expression. Mechanistically, postsynaptic dysfunction requires glycogen synthase kinase 3beta-mediated tau phosphorylation, tau mislocalization to dendritic spines, and calcineurin-dependent AMPA receptor internalization. Previous studies reveal that human A53T alpha-synuclein has a high aggregation potential, which may explain the mutation's unique capacity to induce postsynaptic deficits. However, patients with sporadic PD with severe tau pathology are also more likely to have early onset cognitive decline. Our results here show a novel, functional role for tau: mediating the effects of alpha-synuclein on postsynaptic signaling. Therefore, the unraveled tau-mediated signaling cascade may contribute to the pathogenesis of dementia in A53T alpha-synuclein-linked familial PD cases, as well as some subgroups of PD cases with extensive tau pathology.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Here, we report mutation-specific postsynaptic deficits that are caused by A53T mutant alpha-synuclein, which is linked to familial Parkinson's disease (PD). The overexpression of WT, A53T, or A30P human alpha-synuclein leads to decreased spontaneous synaptic vesicle release. However, only those neurons expressing A53T alpha-synuclein exhibit tau phosphorylation-dependent postsynaptic dysfunction, which is characterized by decreased miniature postsynaptic current amplitude and decreased AMPA to NMDA receptor current ratio. The mutation-specific postsynaptic effects caused by human A53T alpha-synuclein will help us better understand the neurobiological basis of this specific form of familial PD. The differential effects of exogenous human WT, A53T, A30P, and E46K alpha-synuclein on glutamatergic synaptic responses will help to explain the clinical heterogeneity of sporadic and familial PD.