Nutrient deprivation induces α-synuclein aggregation through endoplasmic reticulum stress response and SREBP2 pathway

Peizhou Jiang, Ming Gan, Wen Lang Lin, Shu Hui C. Yen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Abnormal accumulation of filamentous α-synuclein (α-syn) in neurons, regarded as Lewy bodies (LBs), are a hallmark of Parkinson disease (PD). Although the exact mechanism(s) underlying LBs formation remains unknown, autophagy and ER stress response have emerged as two important pathways affecting α-syn aggregation. In present study we tested whether cells with the tetracycline-offinducible overexpression of α-syn and accumulating α-syn aggregates can benefit from autophagy activation elicited by nutrient deprivation (ND), since this approach was reported to effectively clear cellular polyglutamine aggregates. We found that nutrient deprivation of non-induced cells did not affect cell viability, but significantly activated autophagy reflected by increasing the level of autophagy marker LC3-II and autophagic flux and decrease of endogenous α-syn. Cells with induced α-syn expression alone displayed autophagy activation in an α-syn dose-dependent manner to reach a level comparable to that found in non-induced, nutrient deprived counterparts. Nutrient deprivation also activated autophagy further in α-syn induced cells, but the extent was decreased with increase of α-syn dose, indicating α-syn overexpression reduces the responsiveness of cells to nutrient deprivation. Moreover, the nutrient deprivation enhanced α-syn aggregations concomitant with significant increase of apoptosis as well as ER stress response, SREBP2 activation and cholesterolgenesis. Importantly, α-syn aggregate accumulation and other effects caused by nutrient deprivation were counteracted by knockdown of SREBP2, treatment with cholesterol lowering agent-lovastatin, or by GRP78 overexpression, which also caused decrease of SREBP2 activity. Similar results were obtained from studies of primary neurons with a-syn overexpression under nutrient deprivation. Together our findings suggested that down-regulation of SREBP2 activity might be a means to prevent α-syn aggregation in PD via reducing cholesterol levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number268
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Issue numberOCT
StatePublished - 2014


  • Aggregation
  • Autophagy
  • ER stress
  • Nutrient deprivation
  • Parkinson's disease
  • SREBP2
  • α-synuclein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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