Synucleinopathies are characterized by the accumulation of α-synuclein (α-Syn) aggregates in the brain. Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of synucleinopathies requires radiopharmaceuticals that selectively bind α-Syn deposits. We report the identification of a brain permeable and rapid washout PET tracer [18F]-F0502B, which shows high binding affinity for α-Syn, but not for Aβ or Tau fibrils, and preferential binding to α-Syn aggregates in the brain sections. Employing several cycles of counter screenings with in vitro fibrils, intraneuronal aggregates, and neurodegenerative disease brain sections from several mice models and human subjects, [18F]-F0502B images α-Syn deposits in the brains of mouse and non-human primate PD models. We further determined the atomic structure of the α-Syn fibril-F0502B complex by cryo-EM and revealed parallel diagonal stacking of F0502B on the fibril surface through an intense noncovalent bonding network via inter-ligand interactions. Therefore, [18F]-F0502B is a promising lead compound for imaging aggregated α-Syn in synucleinopathies.
Keywords: Lewy body; PET tracer; cryoelectron microscopy; protein aggregation; synucleinopathies.
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