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Proteomic Profiling of the Substantia Nigra to Identify Determinants of Lewy Body Pathology and Dopaminergic Neuronal Loss

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posted on 2021-04-26, 15:36 authored by Vladislav A. Petyuk, Lei Yu, Heather M. Olson, Fengchao Yu, Geremy Clair, Wei-Jun Qian, Joshua M. Shulman, David A. Bennett
Proteinaceous aggregates containing α-synuclein protein called Lewy bodies in the substantia nigra is a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease. The molecular mechanisms of Lewy body formation and associated neuronal loss remain largely unknown. To gain insights into proteins and pathways associated with Lewy body pathology, we performed quantitative profiling of the proteome. We analyzed substantia nigra tissue from 51 subjects arranged into three groups: cases with Lewy body pathology, Lewy body-negative controls with matching neuronal loss, and controls with no neuronal loss. Using a label-free liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) approach, we characterized the proteome both in terms of protein abundances and peptide modifications. Statistical testing for differential abundance of the most abundant 2963 proteins, followed by pathway enrichment and Bayesian learning of the causal network structure, was performed to identify likely drivers of Lewy body formation and dopaminergic neuronal loss. The identified pathways include (1) Arp2/3 complex-mediated actin nucleation; (2) synaptic function; (3) poly­(A) RNA binding; (4) basement membrane and endothelium; and (5) hydrogen peroxide metabolic process. According to the data, the endothelial/basement membrane pathway is tightly connected with both pathologies and likely to be one of the drivers of neuronal loss. The poly­(A) RNA-binding proteins, including the ones relevant to other neurodegenerative disorders (e.g., TDP-43 and FUS), have a strong inverse correlation with Lewy bodies and may reflect an alternative mechanism of nigral neurodegeneration.

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