Up-regulation of SNCA gene expression: implications to synucleinopathies.


Journal Article (Review)

Synucleinopathies are a group of neurodegenerative diseases that share a common pathological lesion of intracellular protein inclusions largely composed by aggregates of alpha-synuclein protein. Accumulating evidence, including genome wide association studies, has implicated alpha-synuclein (SNCA) gene in the etiology of synucleinopathies. However, the precise variants within SNCA gene that contribute to the sporadic forms of Parkinson's disease (PD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), multiple system atrophy (MSA), and other synucleinopathies and their molecular mechanisms of action remain elusive. It has been suggested that SNCA expression levels are critical for the development of these diseases. Here, we review several model systems that have been developed to advance the understanding of the role of SNCA expression levels in the etiology of synucleinopathies. We also describe different molecular mechanisms that regulate SNCA gene expression and discuss possible strategies for SNCA down-regulation as means for therapeutic approaches. Finally, we highlight some examples that underscore the relationships between the genetic association findings and the regulatory mechanisms of SNCA expression, which suggest that genetic variability in SNCA locus is directly responsible, at least in part, to the changes in gene expression and explain the reported associations of SNCA with synucleinopathies. Future studies utilizing induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)-derived neuronal lines and genome editing by CRISPR/Cas9, will allow us to validate, characterize, and manipulate the effects of particular cis-genetic variants on SNCA expression. Moreover, this model system will enable us to compare different neuronal and glial lineages involved in synucleinopathies representing an attractive strategy to elucidate-common and specific-SNCA-genetic variants, regulatory mechanisms, and vulnerable expression levels underlying synucleinopathy spectrum disorders. This forthcoming knowledge will support the development of precision medicine for synucleinopathies.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tagliafierro, L; Chiba-Falek, O

Published Date

  • July 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 17 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 145 - 157

PubMed ID

  • 26948950

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26948950

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1364-6753

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s10048-016-0478-0


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States