The regulation of synaptic function by α-synuclein

Serena Bellani, Vitor L. Sousa, Giuseppe Ronzitti, Flavia Valtorta, Jacopo Meldolesi, Evelina Chieregatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cytosolic protein α-synuclein is enriched at the pre-synaptic terminals of almost all types of neurons in the central nervous system. α-Synuclein overexpression and the expression of three different mutants have been shown to sustain the pathogenesis of selected forms of Parkinson's disease. The localization of the protein and the defects found in knocked out or transgenic animals suggest a role of α-synuclein in the regulation of synaptic efficiency. However, the precise function of the protein and the molecular mechanisms of its action are still unclear. At synapses the synaptic vesicle release cycle is a finely tuned process composed of sequential steps that require the interconnected participation of several proteins and cytoskeletal elements. Actin microfilaments are required for the regulation of synaptic vesicle mobilization between different functional pools, for their organization at the active zone and influence the exocytotic process. We recently identified actin as a possible target of α-synuclein function. Through its binding to actin and the regulation of actin dynamics, α-synuclein could participate in the tuning of the vesicle release process, thereby modulating synaptic function and plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-109
Number of pages4
JournalCommunicative and Integrative Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • α-Synuclein
  • Actin cytoskeleton
  • Exocytosis
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Synaptic vesicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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