Over-expression and aggregation of alpha-synuclein (ASyn) are linked to the onset and pathology of Parkinsons disease and related synucleinopathies. Elevated levels of the stress induced chaperone, Hsp70, protects against ASyn misfolding and ASyn-driven neurodegeneration in cell and animal models, yet there is minimal mechanistic understanding of this important protective pathway. It is generally assumed that Hsp70 binds to ASyn using its canonical and promiscuous substrate-binding cleft to limit aggregation. Here we report that this activity is due to a novel and unexpected mode of Hsp70 action, involving neither ATP nor the typical substrate-binding cleft. We use novel ASyn oligomerization assays to show that Hsp70 directly blocks ASyn oligomerization, an early event in ASyn misfolding. Using truncations, mutations and inhibitors, we confirmed that Hsp70 interacts with ASyn via an as yet unidentified, non-canonical interaction site in the C-terminal domain. Finally, a biological role for a non-canonical interaction was observed in H4 neuroglioma cells. Together, these findings suggest that new chemical approaches will be required to target Hsp70-ASyn interaction in synucleinopathies. Such approaches are likely to be more specific than targeting Hsp70 canonical actions. Additionally, these results raise the question of whether other misfolded proteins might also engage via the same non-canonical mechanism. ### Competing Interest Statement Drs. McConlogue and Agard are inventors on patent applications covering the assays described herein. Research reported in this publication was supported by the Rogers Family Foundation, HHMI (DAA) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under award number R21NS092897(LM).
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