Objective: Aggregation of α-synuclein (α-syn) and α-syn cytotoxicity are hallmarks of sporadic and familial Parkinson disease (PD), with accumulating evidence that prefibrillar oligomers and protofibrils are the pathogenic species in PD and related synucleinopathies. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α), a key regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis and cellular energy metabolism, has recently been associated with the pathophysiology of PD. Despite extensive effort on studying the function of PGC-1α in mitochondria, no studies have addressed whether PGC-1α directly influences oligomerization of α-syn or whether α-syn oligomers impact PGC-1α expression. Materials and Methods: We tested whether pharmacological or genetic activation of PGC-1α or PGC-11α knockdown could modulate the oligomerization of α-syn in vitro by using an α-syn -fragment complementation assay. Results: In this study, we found that both PGC-1α reference gene (RG-PGC-1α) and the central nervous system (CNS)-specific PGC-1α (CNS-PGC-1α) are downregulated in human PD brain, in A30P α-syn transgenic animals, and in a cell culture model for α-syn oligomerization. Importantly, downregulation of both RG-PGC-1α and CNS-PGC-1α in cell culture or neurons from RG-PGC-1α - deficient mice leads to a strong induction of α-syn oligomerization and toxicity. In contrast, pharmacological activation or genetic overexpression of RG-PGC-1α reduced α-syn oligomerization and rescued α-syn - mediated toxicity. Interpretation: Based on our results, we propose that PGC-1α downregulation and α-syn oligomerization form a vicious circle, thereby influencing and/or potentiating each other. Our data indicate that restoration of PGC-1α is a promising approach for development of effective drugs for the treatment of PD and related synucleinopathies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology