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A natural product inhibits the initiation of α-synuclein aggregation and suppresses its toxicity.

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Galvagnion, C 
Maltsev, A 
Müller, MBD 


The self-assembly of α-synuclein is closely associated with Parkinson's disease and related syndromes. We show that squalamine, a natural product with known anticancer and antiviral activity, dramatically affects α-synuclein aggregation in vitro and in vivo. We elucidate the mechanism of action of squalamine by investigating its interaction with lipid vesicles, which are known to stimulate nucleation, and find that this compound displaces α-synuclein from the surfaces of such vesicles, thereby blocking the first steps in its aggregation process. We also show that squalamine almost completely suppresses the toxicity of α-synuclein oligomers in human neuroblastoma cells by inhibiting their interactions with lipid membranes. We further examine the effects of squalamine in a Caenorhabditis elegans strain overexpressing α-synuclein, observing a dramatic reduction of α-synuclein aggregation and an almost complete elimination of muscle paralysis. These findings suggest that squalamine could be a means of therapeutic intervention in Parkinson's disease and related conditions.



Parkinson’s disease, amyloid formation, drug development, protein aggregation, toxic oligomers

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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

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Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/J002119/1)
European Research Council (337969)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/K039520/1)
This work was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), US National Institutes of Health (A.M. and A.B.); by the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (P.F.); by a European Research Council starting grant (to M.B.D.M. and E.A.A.N.); and by The Cambridge Centre for Misfolding Diseases. N.C. thanks the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (RYC-2012-12068). S.W.C. thanks the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, Singapore for support.