Single-vesicle imaging reveals lipid-selective and stepwise membrane disruption by monomeric α-synuclein

Publication year: 2020
Authors: Hannestad J. a, Rocha S. b, Agnarsson B. a, Zhdanov V. ac, Wittung-Stafshede P. *b, Höök F. *a

a- Division of Nano and Biological Physics, Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg 41296, Sweden

b- Division of Chemical Biology, Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg 41296, Sweden

c- Boreskov Institute of Catalysis, Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk 630090, Russia

Published in: Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences PNAS, 2020, Vol. 117, 25, p.14178-14186
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1914670117

The interaction of the neuronal protein α-synuclein with lipid membranes appears crucial in the context of Parkinson’s disease, but the underlying mechanistic details, including the roles of different lipids in pathogenic protein aggregation and membrane disruption, remain elusive. Here, we used single-vesicle resolution fluorescence and label-free scattering microscopy to investigate the interaction kinetics of monomeric α-synuclein with surface-tethered vesicles composed of different negatively charged lipids. Supported by a theoretical model to account for structural changes in scattering properties of surface-tethered lipid vesicles, the data demonstrate stepwise vesicle disruption and asymmetric membrane deformation upon α-synuclein binding to phosphatidylglycerol vesicles at protein concentrations down to 10 nM (∼100 proteins per vesicle). In contrast, phosphatidylserine vesicles were only marginally affected. These insights into structural consequences of α-synuclein interaction with lipid vesicles highlight the contrasting roles of different anionic lipids, which may be of mechanistic relevance for both normal protein function (e.g., synaptic vesicle binding) and dysfunction (e.g., mitochondrial membrane interaction).

MP-SPR keywords: interaction, lipid vesicles, parkinson's disease, protein