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Journal Article

Fasudil attenuates aggregation of alpha-synuclein in models of Parkinson's disease.


Becker,  S.
Department of NMR Based Structural Biology, MPI for biophysical chemistry, Max Planck Society;


Zweckstetter,  M.
Research Group of Protein Structure Determination using NMR, MPI for biophysical chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Tatenhorst, L., Eckermann, K., Dambeck, V., Fonseca-Ornelas, L., Walle, H., da Fonseca, T. L., et al. (2016). Fasudil attenuates aggregation of alpha-synuclein in models of Parkinson's disease. Acta Neuropathologica Communications, 4: 39. doi:10.1186/s40478-016-0310-y.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-C4C9-F
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder, yet disease-modifying treatments do not currently exist. Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) was recently described as a novel neuroprotective target in PD. Since alpha-synuclein (alpha-Syn) aggregation is a major hallmark in the pathogenesis of PD, we aimed to evaluate the anti-aggregative potential of pharmacological ROCK inhibition using the isoquinoline derivative Fasudil, a small molecule inhibitor already approved for clinical use in humans. Fasudil treatment significantly reduced alpha-Syn aggregation in vitro in a H4 cell culture model as well as in a cell-free assay. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy analysis revealed a direct binding of Fasudil to tyrosine residues Y133 and Y136 in the C-terminal region of alpha-Syn. Importantly, this binding was shown to be biologically relevant using site-directed mutagenesis of these residues in the cell culture model. Furthermore, we evaluated the impact of long-term Fasudil treatment on alpha-Syn pathology in vivo in a transgenic mouse model overexpressing human alpha-Syn bearing the A53T mutation (alpha-Syn(A53T) mice). Fasudil treatment improved motor and cognitive functions in alpha-Syn(A53T) mice as determined by Catwalk (TM) gait analysis and novel object recognition (NOR), without apparent side effects. Finally, immunohistochemical analysis revealed a significant reduction of alpha-Syn pathology in the midbrain of alpha-Syn(A53T) mice after Fasudil treatment. Our results demonstrate that Fasudil, next to its effects mediated by ROCK-inhibition, directly interacts with alpha-Syn and attenuates alpha-Syn pathology. This underscores the translational potential of Fasudil as a disease-modifying drug for the treatment of PD and other synucleinopathies.