Multi-Pronged Interactions Underlie Inhibition of α-Synuclein Aggregation by β-Synuclein

J Mol Biol. 2018 Aug 3;430(16):2360-2371. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2018.05.024. Epub 2018 May 18.


The intrinsically disordered protein β-synuclein is known to inhibit the aggregation of its intrinsically disordered homolog, α-synuclein, which is implicated in Parkinson's disease. While β-synuclein itself does not form fibrils at the cytoplasmic pH 7.4, alteration of pH and other environmental perturbations are known to induce its fibrilization. However, the sequence and structural determinants of β-synuclein inhibition and self-aggregation are not well understood. We have utilized a series of domain-swapped chimeras of α-synuclein and β-synuclein to probe the relative contributions of the N-terminal, C-terminal, and the central non-amyloid-β component domains to the inhibition of α-synuclein aggregation. Changes in the rates of α-synuclein fibril formation in the presence of the chimeras indicate that the non-amyloid-β component domain is the primary determinant of self-association leading to fibril formation, while the N- and C-terminal domains play critical roles in the fibril inhibition process. Our data provide evidence that all three domains of β-synuclein together contribute to providing effective inhibition, and support a model of transient, multi-pronged interactions between IDP chains in both processes. Inclusion of such multi-site inhibitory interactions spread over the length of synuclein chains may be critical for the development of therapeutics that are designed to mimic the inhibitory effects of β-synuclein.

Keywords: Parkinson's disease; chimeras; fluorescence; intrinsically disordered proteins; protein–protein interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Protein Aggregation, Pathological / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • alpha-Synuclein / chemistry*
  • beta-Synuclein / chemistry*
  • beta-Synuclein / metabolism*


  • SNCA protein, human
  • SNCB protein, human
  • alpha-Synuclein
  • beta-Synuclein