Román-Vendrell Cristina

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  • Article
    Synuclein regulates synaptic vesicle clustering and docking at a vertebrate synapse
    (Frontiers Media, 2021-11-26) Fouke, Kaitlyn E. ; Wegman, M. Elizabeth ; Weber, Sarah A. ; Brady, Emily B. ; Román-Vendrell, Cristina ; Morgan, Jennifer R.
    Neurotransmission relies critically on the exocytotic release of neurotransmitters from small synaptic vesicles (SVs) at the active zone. Therefore, it is essential for neurons to maintain an adequate pool of SVs clustered at synapses in order to sustain efficient neurotransmission. It is well established that the phosphoprotein synapsin 1 regulates SV clustering at synapses. Here, we demonstrate that synuclein, another SV-associated protein and synapsin binding partner, also modulates SV clustering at a vertebrate synapse. When acutely introduced to unstimulated lamprey reticulospinal synapses, a pan-synuclein antibody raised against the N-terminal domain of α-synuclein induced a significant loss of SVs at the synapse. Both docked SVs and the distal reserve pool of SVs were depleted, resulting in a loss of total membrane at synapses. In contrast, antibodies against two other abundant SV-associated proteins, synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2 (SV2) and vesicle-associated membrane protein (VAMP/synaptobrevin), had no effect on the size or distribution of SV clusters. Synuclein perturbation caused a dose-dependent reduction in the number of SVs at synapses. Interestingly, the large SV clusters appeared to disperse into smaller SV clusters, as well as individual SVs. Thus, synuclein regulates clustering of SVs at resting synapses, as well as docking of SVs at the active zone. These findings reveal new roles for synuclein at the synapse and provide critical insights into diseases associated with α-synuclein dysfunction, such as Parkinson’s disease.
  • Article
    Effects of excess brain-derived human alpha-synuclein on synaptic vesicle trafficking
    (Frontiers Media, 2021-02-04) Román-Vendrell, Cristina ; Medeiros, Audrey T. ; Sanderson, John B. ; Jiang, Haiyang ; Bartels, Tim ; Morgan, Jennifer R.
    α-Synuclein is a presynaptic protein that regulates synaptic vesicle trafficking under physiological conditions. However, in several neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and multiple system atrophy, α-synuclein accumulates throughout the neuron, including at synapses, leading to altered synaptic function, neurotoxicity, and motor, cognitive, and autonomic dysfunction. Neurons typically contain both monomeric and multimeric forms of α-synuclein, and it is generally accepted that disrupting the balance between them promotes aggregation and neurotoxicity. However, it remains unclear how distinct molecular species of α-synuclein affect synapses where α-synuclein is normally expressed. Using the lamprey reticulospinal synapse model, we previously showed that acute introduction of excess recombinant monomeric or dimeric α-synuclein impaired distinct stages of clathrin-mediated synaptic vesicle endocytosis, leading to a loss of synaptic vesicles. Here, we expand this knowledge by investigating the effects of native, physiological α-synuclein isolated from the brain of a neuropathologically normal human subject, which comprised predominantly helically folded multimeric α-synuclein with a minor component of monomeric α-synuclein. After acute introduction of excess brain-derived human α-synuclein, there was a moderate reduction in the synaptic vesicle cluster and an increase in the number of large, atypical vesicles called “cisternae.” In addition, brain-derived α-synuclein increased synaptic vesicle and cisternae sizes and induced atypical fusion/fission events at the active zone. In contrast to monomeric or dimeric α-synuclein, the brain-derived multimeric α-synuclein did not appear to alter clathrin-mediated synaptic vesicle endocytosis. Taken together, these data suggest that excess brain-derived human α-synuclein impairs intracellular vesicle trafficking and further corroborate the idea that different molecular species of α-synuclein produce distinct trafficking defects at synapses. These findings provide insights into the mechanisms by which excess α-synuclein contributes to synaptic deficits and disease phenotypes.