Chemical compensation of mitochondrial phospholipid depletion in yeast and animal models of Parkinson's disease

Academic Article


  • © 2016 Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. We have been investigating the role that phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylcholine (PC) content plays in modulating the solubility of the Parkinson's disease protein alpha-synuclein (α-syn) using Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Caenorhabditis elegans. One enzyme that synthesizes PE is the conserved enzyme phosphatidylserine decarboxylase (Psd1/yeast; PSD-1/worms), which is lodged in the inner mitochondrial membrane. We previously found that decreasing the level of PE due to knockdown of Psd1/psd-1 affects the homeostasis of α-syn in vivo. In S. cerevisiae, the co-occurrence of low PE and α-syn in psd1Δ cells triggers mitochondrial defects, stress in the endoplasmic reticulum, misprocessing of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored proteins, and a 3-fold increase in the level of α-syn. The goal of this study was to identify drugs that rescue this phenotype. We screened the Prestwick library of 1121 Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs using psd1α + α-syn cells and identified cyclosporin A, meclofenoxate hydrochloride, and sulfaphenazole as putative protective compounds. The protective activity of these drugs was corroborated using C. elegans in which α-syn is expressed specifically in the dopaminergic neurons, with psd-1 depleted by RNAi. Worm populations were examined for dopaminergic neuron survival following psd-1 knockdown. Exposure to cyclosporine, meclofenoxate, and sulfaphenazole significantly enhanced survival at day 7 in α-syn-expressing worm populations whereby 50-55% of the populations displayed normal neurons, compared to only 10-15% of untreated animals. We also found that all three drugs rescued worms expressing α-syn in dopaminergic neurons that were deficient in the phospholipid cardiolipin following cardiolipin synthase (crls-1) depletion by RNAi. We discuss how these drugs might block α-syn pathology in dopaminergic neurons.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wang S; Zhang S; Xu C; Barron A; Galiano F; Patel D; Lee YJ; Caldwell GA; Caldwell KA; Witt SN
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 10