Biochemical Fractionation of Human α-Synuclein in a Drosophila Model of Synucleinopathies

Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Mar 25;25(7):3643. doi: 10.3390/ijms25073643.


Synucleinopathies are a group of central nervous system pathologies that are characterized by the intracellular accumulation of misfolded and aggregated α-synuclein in proteinaceous depositions known as Lewy Bodies (LBs). The transition of α-synuclein from its physiological to pathological form has been associated with several post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation and an increasing degree of insolubility, which also correlate with disease progression in post-mortem specimens from human patients. Neuronal expression of α-synuclein in model organisms, including Drosophila melanogaster, has been a typical approach employed to study its physiological effects. Biochemical analysis of α-synuclein solubility via high-speed ultracentrifugation with buffers of increasing detergent strength offers a potent method for identification of α-synuclein biochemical properties and the associated pathology stage. Unfortunately, the development of a robust and reproducible method for the evaluation of human α-synuclein solubility isolated from Drosophila tissues has remained elusive. Here, we tested different detergents for their ability to solubilize human α-synuclein carrying the pathological mutation A53T from the brains of aged flies. We also assessed the effect of sonication on the solubility of human α-synuclein and optimized a protocol to discriminate the relative amounts of soluble/insoluble human α-synuclein from dopaminergic neurons of the Drosophila brain. Our data established that, using a 5% SDS buffer, the three-step protocol separates cytosolic soluble, detergent-soluble and insoluble proteins in three sequential fractions according to their chemical properties. This protocol shows that sonication breaks down α-synuclein insoluble complexes from the fly brain, making them soluble in the SDS buffer and thus enriching the detergent-soluble fraction of the protocol.

Keywords: Drosophila; Parkinson’s disease; SDS; chemical fractionation; synucleinopathy; α-synuclein.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Detergents
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Humans
  • Synucleinopathies*
  • alpha-Synuclein