Characterization of α-synuclein oligomers formed in the presence of lipid vesicles

Anvesh K.R. Dasari, Urmi Sengupta, Elizabeth Viverette, Mario J. Borgnia, Rakez Kayed, Kwang Hun Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aggregation of α-synuclein into oligomers and fibrils is associated with numerous neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease (PD). Although the identity of the pathogenic species formed during the aggregation process is still under active debate, mounting evidence suggests that small oligomeric species rather than fibrillar aggregates are real toxic species. Isolation and characterization of small oligomers is essential to developing therapeutic strategies to prevent oligomer formation. Preparation of misfolded oligomeric species for biophysical characterization is, however, a great challenge due to their heterogenous, transient nature. Here we report the preparation of toxic and non-toxic α-synuclein oligomeric species formed at different pH values in the presence of lipid vesicles that mimic mitochondria membranes containing cardiolipin. Biophysical characterization of the lipid-induced α-synuclein oligomeric assemblies revealed that α-synuclein oligomers formed at pH 7.4 have higher surface hydrophobicity than the aggregates formed at pH 6.0. In addition, the high-pH oligomers were shown to exhibit higher toxicity than the low-pH aggregates. Structural, dynamic properties of the oligomers were also investigated by using circular dichroism (CD) and NMR spectroscopy. Our CD analyses revealed that the two oligomeric species have distinct molecular conformations, and 2D 1H/15N HSQC NMR experiments suggested that the high-pH oligomers have more extended dynamic regions than the low-pH aggregates. The distinct structural and dynamic properties of the oligomers might be associated with their different cytotoxic properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101687
JournalBiochemistry and Biophysics Reports
StatePublished - Jul 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiolipin
  • Lipid
  • Misfolding
  • NMR
  • Oligomer
  • α-synuclein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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