alpha-Synucleinopathies are neurodegenerative disorders that range pathologically from the demise of select groups of nuclei to pervasive degeneration throughout the neuraxis. Although mounting evidence suggests that alpha-synuclein lesions lead to neurodegeneration, this remains controversial. To explore this issue, we generated transgenic mice expressing wild-type and A53T human alpha-synuclein in CNS neurons. Mice expressing mutant, but not wild-type, alpha-synuclein developed a severe and complex motor impairment leading to paralysis and death. These animals developed age-dependent intracytoplasmic neuronal alpha-synuclein inclusions paralleling disease onset, and the alpha-synuclein inclusions recapitulated features of human counterparts. Moreover, immunoelectron microscopy revealed that the alpha-synuclein inclusions contained 10-16 nm wide fibrils similar to human pathological inclusions. These mice demonstrate that A53T alpha-synuclein leads to the formation of toxic filamentous alpha-synuclein neuronal inclusions that cause neurodegeneration.
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