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2D polarization imaging as a low-cost fluorescence method to detect α-synuclein aggregation ex vivo in models of Parkinson’s disease

Camacho, Rafael; Täuber, Daniela; Hansen, Christian; Shi, Juanzi; Bousset, Luc; Melki, Ronald; Li, Jia-Yi; Scheblykin, Ivan G.
in: Communications biology (2018) 157-1

A hallmark of Parkinson’s disease is the formation of large protein-rich aggregates in neurons, where α-synuclein is the most abundant protein. A standard approach to visualize aggregation is fluorescence staining of the proteins of interest. Then, highly fluorescent regions are assumed to contain aggregated proteins. However, fluorescence brightness alone cannot discriminate micrometer-sized regions with high expression of non-aggregated proteins from regions where the proteins are aggregated on the molecular scale. Here, we demonstrate that 2-dimensional polarization imaging can discriminate between preformed non-aggregated and aggregated forms of α-synuclein, and detect increased aggregation in brain tissues of transgenic mice. This imaging method assesses homo-FRET between labels by measuring fluorescence polarization in excitation and emission simultaneously, which translates into higher contrast than fluorescence anisotropy imaging. Exploring earlier aggregation states of α-synuclein using such technically simple imaging method could lead to crucial improvements in our understanding of α-synuclein mediated pathology in Parkinson’s Disease.

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