Differential Membrane Binding and Seeding of Distinct α-Synuclein Fibrillar Polymorphs

Biophys J. 2020 Mar 24;118(6):1301-1320. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2020.01.022. Epub 2020 Jan 28.


The aggregation of the protein α-synuclein (α-Syn) leads to different synucleinopathies. We recently showed that structurally distinct fibrillar α-Syn polymorphs trigger either Parkinson's disease or multiple system atrophy hallmarks in vivo. Here, we establish a structural-molecular basis for these observations. We show that distinct fibrillar α-Syn polymorphs bind to and cluster differentially at the plasma membrane in both primary neuronal cultures and organotypic hippocampal slice cultures from wild-type mice. We demonstrate a polymorph-dependent and concentration-dependent seeding. We show a polymorph-dependent differential synaptic redistribution of α3-Na+/K+-ATPase, GluA2 subunit containing α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors, and GluN2B-subunit containing N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors, but not GluA1 subunit containing α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid and metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 receptors. We also demonstrate polymorph-dependent alteration in neuronal network activity upon seeded aggregation of α-Syn. Our findings bring new, to our knowledge, insight into how distinct α-Syn polymorphs differentially bind to and seed monomeric α-Syn aggregation within neurons, thus affecting neuronal homeostasis through the redistribution of synaptic proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neurons* / metabolism
  • alpha-Synuclein* / metabolism


  • alpha-Synuclein