The neuropathological hallmarks of Parkinson's disease (PD) include the appearance of α-synuclein (α-SYN)-positive Lewy bodies (LBs) and the loss of catecholaminergic neurons. Thus, a potential mechanism promoting the uptake of extracellular α-SYN may exist in susceptible neurons. Of the various differentially expressed proteins, we are interested in flotillin (FLOT)-1 because this protein is highly expressed in the brainstem catecholaminergic neurons and is strikingly up-regulated in PD brains. In this study, we found that extracellular monomeric and fibrillar α-SYN can potentiate FLOT1-dopamine transporter (DAT) binding and pre-endocytic clustering of DAT on the cell surface, thereby facilitating DAT endocytosis and down-regulating its transporter activity. Moreover, we demonstrated that α-SYN itself exploited the DAT endocytic process to enter dopaminergic neuron-like cells, and both FLOT1 and DAT were found to be the components of LBs. Altogether, these findings revealed a novel role of extracellular α-SYN on cellular trafficking of DAT and may provide a rationale for the cell type-specific, functional, and pathologic alterations in PD.-Kobayashi, J., Hasegawa, T., Sugeno, N., Yoshida, S., Akiyama, T., Fujimori, K., Hatakeyama, H., Miki, Y., Tomiyama, A., Kawata, Y., Fukuda, M., Kawahata, I., Yamakuni, T., Ezura, M., Kikuchi, A., Baba, T., Takeda, A., Kanzaki, M., Wakabayashi, K., Okano, H., Aoki, M. Extracellular α-synuclein enters dopaminergic cells by modulating flotillin-1-assisted dopamine transporter endocytosis.
Keywords: DAT; Lewy body; Parkinson’s disease; endocytosis; endosome.