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Monomeric alpha-synuclein exerts a physiological role in brain ATP synthase

Ludtmann, M H R; Angelova, P R; Ninkina, N; Gandhi, S; Buchman, V L; Abramov, A Y


M H R Ludtmann

P R Angelova

N Ninkina

S Gandhi

V L Buchman

A Y Abramov


Misfolded α-synuclein is a key factor in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, knowledge about a physiological role for the native, unfolded α-synuclein is limited. Using brains of mice lacking α-, β-, and γ-synuclein, we report that extracellular monomeric α-synuclein enters neurons and localizes to mitochondria, interacts with ATP synthase subunit α, and modulates ATP synthase function. Using a combination of biochemical, live-cell imaging and mitochondrial respiration analysis, we found that brain mitochondria of α-, β-, and γ-synuclein knock-out mice are uncoupled, as characterized by increased mitochondrial respiration and reduced mitochondrial membrane potential. Furthermore, synuclein deficiency results in reduced ATP synthase efficiency and lower ATP levels. Exogenous application of low unfolded α-synuclein concentrations is able to increase the ATP synthase activity that rescues the mitochondrial phenotypes observed in synuclein deficiency. Overall, the data suggest that α-synuclein is a previously unrecognized physiological regulator of mitochondrial bioenergetics through its ability to interact with ATP synthase and increase its efficiency. This may be of particular importance in times of stress or PD mutations leading to energy depletion and neuronal cell toxicity.


Ludtmann, M. H. R., Angelova, P. R., Ninkina, N., Gandhi, S., Buchman, V. L., & Abramov, A. Y. (2016). Monomeric alpha-synuclein exerts a physiological role in brain ATP synthase. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(41), 10510-10521.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 28, 2016
Publication Date Oct 12, 2016
Deposit Date Jun 30, 2018
Publicly Available Date Aug 23, 2018
Print ISSN 0270-6474
Publisher Society for Neuroscience
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 41
Pages 10510-10521
Public URL


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