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The levels and conformers of alpha-synuclein are critical in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's Disease and related synucleinopathies. Homeostatic mechanisms in protein degradation and secretion have been identified as regulators of alpha-synuclein at different stages of its intracellular trafficking and transcellular propagation. Here we review pathways involved in the removal of various forms of alpha-synuclein from both the intracellular and extracellular environment. Proteasomes and lysosomes are likely to play complementary roles in the removal of intracellular alpha-synuclein species, in a manner that depends on alpha-synuclein post-translational modifications. Extracellular alpha-synuclein is cleared by extracellular proteolytic enzymes, or taken up by neighboring cells, especially microglia and astrocytes, and degraded within lysosomes. Exosomes, on the other hand, represent a vehicle for egress of excess burden of the intracellular protein, potentially contributing to the transfer of alpha-synuclein between cells. Dysfunction in any one of these clearance mechanisms, or a combination thereof, may be involved in the initiation or progression of Parkinson's disease, whereas targeting these pathways may offer an opportunity for therapeutic intervention. This article is part of the Special Issue "Synuclein".

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurochem

Publication Date





577 - 590


alpha-synuclein, degradation, exosomes, lysosomes, proteasome, ubiquitin, Astrocytes, Disease Progression, Exosomes, Extracellular Fluid, Genetic Therapy, Humans, Immunotherapy, Intracellular Fluid, Lewy Bodies, Lysosomes, Microglia, Parkinson Disease, Phosphorylation, Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex, Protein Aggregation, Pathological, Protein Processing, Post-Translational, Proteolysis, Ubiquitination, alpha-Synuclein