A53t mutant alpha-synuclein induces tau-dependent postsynaptic impairment independently of neurodegenerative changes

Peter J. Teravskis, Ana Covelo, Eric C. Miller, Balvindar Singh, Héctor A. Martell-Martínez, Michael A. Benneyworth, Christopher Gallardo, Breeta R. Oxnard, Alfonso Araque, Michael K Lee, Dezhi Liao

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Abstract

Abnormalities in -synuclein are implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Because -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 -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 -synuclein. Increased -synuclein expression leads to decreased spontaneous synaptic vesicle release regardless of genotype. However, only those neurons expressing A53T -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 -synuclein expression. Mechanistically, postsynaptic dysfunction requires glycogen synthase kinase 3-mediated tau phosphorylation, tau mislocalization to dendritic spines, and calcineurin-dependent AMPA receptor internalization. Previous studies reveal that human A53T -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 -synuclein on postsynaptic signaling. Therefore, the unraveled tau-mediated signaling cascade may contribute to the pathogenesis of dementia in A53T -synuclein-linked familial PD cases, as well as some subgroups of PD cases with extensive tau pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9754-9767
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume38
Issue number45
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 7 2018

Keywords

  • AMPA receptor
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Synuclein
  • Tau

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    Teravskis, P. J., Covelo, A., Miller, E. C., Singh, B., Martell-Martínez, H. A., Benneyworth, M. A., Gallardo, C., Oxnard, B. R., Araque, A., Lee, M. K., & Liao, D. (2018). A53t mutant alpha-synuclein induces tau-dependent postsynaptic impairment independently of neurodegenerative changes. Journal of Neuroscience, 38(45), 9754-9767. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0344-18.2018