The alpha-synuclein oligomers activate nuclear factor of activated T-cell (NFAT) modulating synaptic homeostasis and apoptosis


Sant’Anna R, Robbs BK, de Freitas JA, Dos Santos PP, König A, Outeiro TF, Foguel D


Molecular Medicine


Mol Med. 2023 Aug 18;29(1):111.


Background: Soluble oligomeric forms of alpha-synuclein (aSyn-O) are believed to be one of the main toxic species in Parkinson’s disease (PD) leading to degeneration. aSyn-O can induce Ca2+ influx, over activating downstream pathways leading to PD phenotype. Calcineurin (CN), a phosphatase regulated by Ca2+ levels, activates NFAT transcription factors that are involved in the regulation of neuronal plasticity, growth, and survival.
Methods: Here, using a combination of cell toxicity and gene regulation assays performed in the presence of classical inhibitors of the NFAT/CN pathway, we investigate NFAT’s role in neuronal degeneration induced by aSyn-O.
Results: aSyn-O are toxic to neurons leading to cell death, loss of neuron ramification and reduction of synaptic proteins which are reversed by CN inhibition with ciclosporin-A or VIVIT, a NFAT specific inhibitor. aSyn-O induce NFAT nuclear translocation and transactivation. We found that aSyn-O modulates the gene involved in the maintenance of synapses, synapsin 1 (Syn 1). Syn1 mRNA and protein and synaptic puncta are drastically reduced in cells treated with aSyn-O which are reversed by NFAT inhibition.
Conclusions: For the first time a direct role of NFAT in aSyn-O-induced toxicity and Syn1 gene regulation was demonstrated, enlarging our understanding of the pathways underpinnings synucleinopathies.


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