Alpha-synuclein (α-Syn) can misfold and aggregate, causing the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons, as seen in Parkinson’s disease (PD). We recently demonstrated that DNAJB6, a co-chaperone found in Lewy bodies (LB), suppresses the aggregation of α-Syn in cells and in vitro. In this study, we compared the capacities of DNAJB1 and DNAJB6 to suppress the seeded α-Syn aggregation in HEK293 cells expressing α-Syn tagged with cyan fluorescent protein (CFP) or yellow fluorescent protein (YFP). The aggregation of α-Syn was seeded by the transfection of the cells with recombinant α-Syn pre-formed fibrils (PFFs), following the Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9-mediated knockout (KO) of these two genes, respectively. We quantified the α-Syn aggregation by fluorescence microscopy and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) analysis. We detected significantly more aggregates in the DNAJB6
KO cells compared with the parental cells, whereas the DNAJB1
KO had no effect on the α-Syn aggregation. This is the first evidence that DNAJB6 can suppress α-Syn aggregation, induced by exogenous α-Syn seeds, in cells. Next, we explored whether this mechanism could be dependent on protein degradation pathways. We observed that the increase in the α-Syn PFF-induced aggregation in the DNAJB6
KO cells compared with the parental cells was strongly diminished upon the incubation of the cells with the proteasomal inhibitor MG132. These results consolidate that DNAJB6 is a suppressor of α-Syn aggregation, and suggest that DNAJB6 may target misfolded and/or aggregated α-Syn for proteasomal degradation.
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