LRP1 is a neuronal receptor for α-synuclein uptake and spread

Mol Neurodegener. 2022 Sep 2;17(1):57. doi: 10.1186/s13024-022-00560-w.


Background: The aggregation and spread of α-synuclein (α-Syn) protein and related neuronal toxicity are the key pathological features of Parkinson's disease (PD) and Lewy body dementia (LBD). Studies have shown that pathological species of α-Syn and tau can spread in a prion-like manner between neurons, although these two proteins have distinct pathological roles and contribute to different neurodegenerative diseases. It is reported that the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) regulates the spread of tau proteins; however, the molecular regulatory mechanisms of α-Syn uptake and spread, and whether it is also regulated by LRP1, remain poorly understood.

Methods: We established LRP1 knockout (LRP1-KO) human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) isogenic lines using a CRISPR/Cas9 strategy and generated iPSC-derived neurons (iPSNs) to test the role of LRP1 in α-Syn uptake. We treated the iPSNs with fluorescently labeled α-Syn protein and measured the internalization of α-Syn using flow cytometry. Three forms of α-Syn species were tested: monomers, oligomers, and pre-formed fibrils (PFFs). To examine whether the lysine residues of α-Syn are involved in LRP1-mediated uptake, we capped the amines of lysines on α-Syn with sulfo-NHS acetate and then measured the internalization. We also tested whether the N-terminus of α-Syn is critical for LRP1-mediated internalization. Lastly, we investigated the role of Lrp1 in regulating α-Syn spread with a neuronal Lrp1 conditional knockout (Lrp1-nKO) mouse model. We generated adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) that allowed for distinguishing the α-Syn expression versus spread and injected them into the hippocampus of six-month-old Lrp1-nKO mice and the littermate wild type (WT) controls. The spread of α-Syn was evaluated three months after the injection.

Results: We found that the uptake of both monomeric and oligomeric α-Syn was significantly reduced in iPSNs with LRP1-KO compared with the WT controls. The uptake of α-Syn PFFs was also inhibited in LRP1-KO iPSNs, albeit to a much lesser extent compared to α-Syn monomers and oligomers. The blocking of lysine residues on α-Syn effectively decreased the uptake of α-Syn in iPSNs and the N-terminus of α-Syn was critical for LRP1-mediated α-Syn uptake. Finally, in the Lrp1-nKO mice, the spread of α-Syn was significantly reduced compared with the WT littermates.

Conclusions: We identified LRP1 as a key regulator of α-Syn neuronal uptake, as well as an important mediator of α-Syn spread in the brain. This study provides new knowledge on the physiological and pathological role of LRP1 in α-Syn trafficking and pathology, offering insight for the treatment of synucleinopathies.

Keywords: Human induced pluripotent stem cells; Lewy body dementia; Low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1; Parkinson’s disease; α-Synuclein.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells* / metabolism
  • Infant
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-1 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Synapsins
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism*
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • LRP1 protein, human
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-1
  • Lrp1 protein, mouse
  • Synapsins
  • alpha-Synuclein
  • tau Proteins