Misfolded α-synuclein (A-syn) is widely recognized as the primal cause of neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. The normal cellular function of A-syn has, however, been elusive. There is evidence that A-syn plays multiple roles in the exocytotic pathway in the neuron, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are unclear. A-syn has been known to interact with negatively charged phospholipids and with vesicle SNARE protein VAMP2. Using single-vesicle docking/fusion assays, we find that A-syn promotes SNARE-dependent vesicles docking significantly at 2.5 µM. When phosphatidylserine (PS) is removed from t-SNARE-bearing vesicles, the docking enhancement by A-syn disappears and A-syn instead acts as an inhibitor for docking. In contrast, subtraction of PS from the v-SNARE-carrying vesicles enhances vesicle docking even further. Moreover, when we truncate the C-terminal 45 residues of A-syn that participates in interacting with VAMP2, the promotion of vesicle docking is abrogated. Thus, the results suggest that the A-syn's interaction with v-SNARE through its C-terminal tail and its concurrent interaction with PS in trans through its amphipathic N-terminal domain facilitate SNARE complex formation, whereby A-syn aids SNARE-dependent vesicle docking.

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