Alpha-synuclein: between synaptic function and dysfunction

Histol Histopathol. 2003 Oct;18(4):1257-66. doi: 10.14670/HH-18.1257.


Alpha-synuclein belongs to a family of vertebrate proteins, encoded by three different genes: alpha, ss, and gamma. The protein has become of interest to the neuroscience community in the last few years after the discovery that a mutation in the alpha-synuclein gene is associated with familial autosomal-dominant early-onset forms of Parkinson Disease. However, it is not yet clear how the protein is involved in the disease. Several studies have suggested that alpha-synuclein plays a role in neurotransmitter release and synaptic plasticity. This hypothesis might help elucidate how alpha-synuclein malfunctioning contributes to the development of a series of disorders known as synucleinopathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Synucleins
  • Ubiquinone / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism
  • alpha-Synuclein


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • SNCA protein, human
  • Synucleins
  • alpha-Synuclein
  • Ubiquinone
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • parkin protein