Polymorphic α-Synuclein Strains Modified by Dopamine and Docosahexaenoic Acid Interact Differentially with Tau Protein

Urmi Sengupta, Nicha Puangmalai, Nemil Bhatt, Stephanie Garcia, Yingxin Zhao, Rakez Kayed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The pathological hallmark of synucleinopathies, including Parkinson’s disease (PD), is the aggregation of α-synuclein (α-Syn) protein. Even so, tau protein pathology is abundantly found in these diseases. Both α-Syn and tau can exist as polymorphic aggregates, a phenomenon that has been widely studied, mostly in their fibrillar assemblies. We have previously discovered that in addition to α-Syn oligomers, oligomeric tau is also present in the brain tissues of patients with PD and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). However, the effect of interaction between polymorphic α-Syn oligomers and tau has not been scrupulously studied. Here, we have explored the structural and functional diversity of distinct α-Syn oligomers, prepared by modifying the protein with dopamine (DA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The two α-Syn oligomers differed in aggregate size, conformation, sensitivity to proteinase K digestion, tryptic digestion, and toxicity, suggesting them as distinct α-Syn oligomeric strains. We examined their internalization mechanisms in primary neurons and seeding propensity in inducing α-Syn aggregation. Using a combined approach of molecular and cellular techniques, we observed that the tau aggregates cross-seeded with the individual α-Syn oligomeric strains differed in their biochemical and biological properties, suggesting two distinct tau strains. The tau aggregate cross-seeded with the DA-modified α-Syn oligomeric strain possessed a potent intracellular tau seeding propensity. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of unique strain-specific interaction between oligomeric α-Syn and tau. Furthermore, this study allows us to speculate that distinct α-Syn-tau interactions inducing tau aggregation might be an underlying mechanism of neurodegeneration in PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2741-2765
Number of pages25
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Aggregated tau strains
  • Cross-seeding
  • Internalization
  • Seeding
  • α-Syn oligomeric strains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)


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