The GTPase Rab27b regulates the release, autophagic clearance, and toxicity of alpha-synuclein

Academic Article


  • Alpha synuclein (αsyn) is the primary component of proteinaceous aggregates termed Lewy Bodies that pathologically define synucleinopathies including Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB). αSyn is hypothesized to spread through the brain in a prion-like fashion by misfolded protein forming a template for aggregation of endogenous αsyn. The cell-to-cell release and uptake of αsyn are considered important processes for its prion-like spread. Rab27b is one of several GTPases essential to the endosomal-lysosomal pathway and is implicated in protein secretion and clearance, but its role in αsyn spread has yet to be characterized. In this study, we used a paracrine αsyn in vitro neuronal model to test the impact of Rab27b on αsyn release, clearance, and toxicity. shRNA-mediated knockdown (KD) of Rab27b increased αsyn-mediated paracrine toxicity. Rab27b reduced αsyn release primarily through non-exosomal pathways, but the αsyn released after Rab27b KD was of higher molecular weight species, as determined by size exclusion chromatography. Rab27b KD increased intracellular levels of insoluble αsyn and led to an accumulation of endogenous light chain 3 (LC3)-positive puncta. Rab27b KD also decreased LC3 turnover after treatment with an autophagosome-lysosome fusion inhibitor, chloroquine, indicating that Rab27b KD induces a defect in autophagic flux. Rab27b protein levels were increased in brain lysates obtained from postmortem tissues of individuals with PD and DLB compared with healthy controls. These data indicate a role for Rab27b in the release, clearance, and toxicity of αsyn and, ultimately, in the pathogenesis of synucleinopathies.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Underwood R; Wang B; Carico C; Whitaker RH; Placzek WJ; Yacoubian TA
  • Start Page

  • 8005
  • End Page

  • 8016
  • Volume

  • 295
  • Issue

  • 23