Occurrence of Total and Proteinase K-Resistant Alpha-Synuclein in Glioblastoma Cells Depends on mTOR Activity

Larisa Ryskalin, Rosangela Ferese, Gabriele Morucci, Francesca Biagioni, Carla L Busceti, Fabrizio Michetti, Paola Lenzi, Alessandro Frati, Francesco Fornai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alpha-synuclein (α-syn) is a protein considered to be detrimental in a number of degenerative disorders (synucleinopathies) of which α-syn aggregates are considered a pathological hallmark. The clearance of α-syn strongly depends on autophagy, which can be stimulated by inhibiting the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR). Thus, the overexpression of mTOR and severe autophagy suppression may produce α-syn accumulation, including the proteinase K-resistant protein isoform. Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a lethal brain tumor that features mTOR overexpression and severe autophagy inhibition. Cell pathology in GBM is reminiscent of a fast, progressive degenerative disorder. Therefore, the present work questions whether, as is analogous to neurons during degenerative disorders, an overexpression of α-syn occurs within GBM cells. A high amount of α-syn was documented in GBM cells via real-time PCR (RT-PCR), Western blotting, immunohistochemistry, immuno-fluorescence, and ultrastructural stoichiometry, compared with the amount of β- and γ-synucleins and compared with the amount of α-syn counted within astrocytes. The present study indicates that (i) α-syn is overexpressed in GBM cells, (ii) α-syn expression includes a proteinase-K resistant isoform, (iii) α-syn is dispersed from autophagy-like vacuoles to the cytosol, (iv) α-syn overexpression and cytosol dispersion are mitigated by rapamycin, and (v) the α-syn-related GBM-like phenotype is mitigated by silencing the SNCA gene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1382
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 8 2022


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