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Amyloid-like aggregates cause lysosomal defects in neurons via gain-of-function toxicity

By Irene Riera-Tur, Tillman Schaefer, Daniel Hornburg, Archana Mishra, Lorena Fernández-Mosquera, Dennis Feigenbutz, Patrick Auer, Matthias Mann, Wolfgang Baumeister, Rudiger Klein, Felix Meissner, Nuno Raimundo, Rubén Fernández-Busnadiego, Irina Dudanova

Posted 17 Dec 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2019.12.16.877431

The autophagy-lysosomal pathway is impaired in many neurodegenerative diseases characterized by protein aggregation, but the link between aggregation and lysosomal dysfunction remains poorly understood. Here, we combine cryo-electron tomography, proteomics and cell biology studies to investigate the effects of protein aggregates in primary neurons. We use artificial amyloid-like {beta}-sheet proteins ({beta} proteins) to focus on the gain-of-function aspect of aggregation. These proteins form fibrillar aggregates and cause neurotoxicity. We show that late stages of autophagy are impaired by the aggregates, resulting in lysosomal alterations reminiscent of lysosomal storage disorders. Mechanistically, {beta} proteins interact with and sequester AP-31, a subunit of the AP-3 adaptor complex involved in protein trafficking to lysosomal organelles. This leads to destabilization of the AP-3 complex, missorting of AP-3 cargo, and lysosomal defects. Restoring AP-31 expression ameliorates neurotoxicity caused by {beta} proteins. Altogether, our results highlight the link between protein aggregation and neurotoxicity, pointing to lysosomes as particularly vulnerable organelles.

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