Dopaminergic neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with abnormal dopamine metabolism by MAO-B (monoamine oxidase-B) and intracellular α-Synuclein (α-Syn) aggregates, called the Lewy body. However, the molecular relationship between α-Syn and MAO-B remains unclear. Here, we show that α-Syn directly binds to MAO-B and stimulates its enzymatic activity, which triggers AEP (asparagine endopeptidase; legumain) activation and subsequent α-Syn cleavage at N103, leading to dopaminergic neurodegeneration. Interestingly, the dopamine metabolite, DOPAL, strongly activates AEP, and the N103 fragment of α-Syn binds and activates MAO-B. Accordingly, overexpression of AEP in SNCA transgenic mice elicits α-Syn N103 cleavage and accelerates PD pathogenesis, and inhibition of MAO-B by Rasagiline diminishes α-Syn-mediated PD pathology and motor dysfunction. Moreover, virally mediated expression of α-Syn N103 induces PD pathogenesis in wild-type, but not MAO-B-null mice. Our findings thus support that AEP-mediated cleavage of α-Syn at N103 is required for the association and activation of MAO-B, mediating PD pathogenesis.
Keywords: DOPAL; MPTP; delta‐secretase (AEP); neurodegenerative diseases.
© 2018 The Authors.