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α‑Synuclein Penetrates Mucin Hydrogels Despite Its Mucoadhesive Properties

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journal contribution
posted on 25.11.2019, 16:04 by Matthias Marczynski, Carolin A. Rickert, Slav A. Semerdzhiev, Wouter R. van Dijk, Ine M. J. Segers-Nolten, Mireille M. A. E. Claessens, Oliver Lieleg
Recent research indicates that the progression of Parkinson’s disease can start from neurons of the enteric nervous system, which are in close contact with the gastrointestinal epithelium: α-synuclein molecules can be transferred from these epithelial cells in a prion-like fashion to enteric neurons. Thin mucus layers constitute a defense line against the exposure of noninfected cells to potentially harmful α-synuclein species. We show thatdespite its mucoadhesive propertiesα-synuclein can translocate across mucin hydrogels, and this process is accompanied by structural rearrangements of the mucin molecules within the gel. Penetration experiments with different α-synuclein variants and synthetic peptides suggest that two binding sites on α-synuclein are required to accomplish this rearrangement of the mucin matrix. Our results support the notion that the translocation of α-synuclein across mucus barriers observed here might be a critical step in the infection of the gastrointestinal epithelium and the development of Parkinson’s disease.