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Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by accumulation and misfolding of α-synuclein. Although the level of α-synuclein in neurons is fundamentally linked to the onset of neurodegeneration, multiple pathways have been implicated in its degradation, and it remains unclear which are the critical ubiquitination enzymes that protect against α-synuclein accumulation in vivo. The ubiquitin ligase Nedd4 targets α-synuclein to the endosomal-lysosomal pathway in cultured cells. Here we asked whether Nedd4-mediated degradation protects against α-synuclein-induced toxicity in the Drosophila and rodent models of Parkinson's disease. We show that overexpression of Nedd4 can rescue the degenerative phenotype from ectopic expression of α-synuclein in the Drosophila eye. Overexpressed Nedd4 in the Drosophila brain prevented the α-synuclein-induced locomotor defect whereas reduction in endogenous Nedd4 by RNAi led to worsening motor function and increased loss of dopaminergic neurons. Accordingly, AAV-mediated expression of wild-type but not the catalytically inactive Nedd4 decreased the α-synuclein-induced dopaminergic cell loss in the rat substantia nigra and reduced α-synuclein accumulation. Collectively, our data in two evolutionarily distant model organisms strongly suggest that Nedd4 is a modifier of α-synuclein pathobiology and thus a potential target for neuroprotective therapies.

Original publication




Journal article


Neurobiol Dis

Publication Date





79 - 87


Endosomal-trafficking, Lysosome, Protein-degradation, Ubiquitination, Animals, Animals, Genetically Modified, Brain, Dopaminergic Neurons, Drosophila, Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport, Eye, Female, Humans, Locomotion, Male, Mutation, Nerve Degeneration, Parkinsonian Disorders, RNA, Messenger, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Substantia Nigra, Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases, alpha-Synuclein