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Analysis of striatal transcriptome in mice overexpressing human wild-type alpha-synuclein supports synaptic dysfunction and suggests mechanisms of neuroprotection for striatal neurons

Yofre Cabeza-Arvelaiz1*, Sheila M Fleming2, Franziska Richter2, Eliezer Masliah3, Marie-Francoise Chesselet2 and Robert H Schiestl1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology and Environmental Health Sciences, The Geffen School of Medicine and School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, 650 Charles E. Young Dr. S, CHS 71-295; Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA

2 Department of Neurology, The Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, 710 Westwood plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA

3 Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego; 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

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Molecular Neurodegeneration 2011, 6:83  doi:10.1186/1750-1326-6-83

Published: 13 December 2011



Alpha synuclein (SNCA) has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases (synucleinopathies) that include Parkinson's disease (PD). Although the primary neurodegeneration in PD involves nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons, more extensive yet regionally selective neurodegeneration is observed in other synucleinopathies. Furthermore, SNCA is ubiquitously expressed in neurons and numerous neuronal systems are dysfunctional in PD. Therefore it is of interest to understand how overexpression of SNCA affects neuronal function in regions not directly targeted for neurodegeneration in PD.


The present study investigated the consequences of SNCA overexpression on cellular processes and functions in the striatum of mice overexpressing wild-type, human SNCA under the Thy1 promoter (Thy1-aSyn mice) by transcriptome analysis. The analysis revealed alterations in multiple biological processes in the striatum of Thy1-aSyn mice, including synaptic plasticity, signaling, transcription, apoptosis, and neurogenesis.


The results support a key role for SNCA in synaptic function and revealed an apoptotic signature in Thy1-aSyn mice, which together with specific alterations of neuroprotective genes suggest the activation of adaptive compensatory mechanisms that may protect striatal neurons in conditions of neuronal overexpression of SNCA.

α-synuclein; apoptosis; neuroprotection; Parkinson's disease; Alzheimer's disease; synaptic plasticity; vesicle release; diabetes