Amyloid-like fibrillar aggregates of intracellular proteins are common pathological features of human neurodegenerative diseases. However, the nature of pathogenic aggregates and the biological consequences of their formation remain elusive. Here, we describe (i) a model cellular system in which prefibrillar alpha-synuclein aggregates and fibrillar inclusions are naturally formed in the cytoplasm with distinctive kinetics and (ii) a tight correlation between the presence of prefibrillar aggregates and the Golgi fragmentation. Consistent with the structural abnormality of Golgi apparatus, trafficking and maturation of dopamine transporter through the biosynthetic pathway were impaired in the presence of alpha-synuclein aggregates. Reduction in cell viability was also observed in the prefibrillar aggregate-forming condition and before the inclusion formation. The fibrillar inclusions, on the other hand, showed no correlation with Golgi fragmentation and were preceded by these events. Furthermore, at the early stage of inclusion formation, active lysosomes and mitochondria were enriched in the juxtanuclear area and co-aggregate into a compact inclusion body, suggesting that the fibrillar inclusions might be the consequence of an attempt of the cell to remove abnormal protein aggregates and damaged organelles. These results support the hypothesis that prefibrillar alpha-synuclein aggregates are the pathogenic species and suggest that Golgi fragmentation and subsequent trafficking impairment are the specific consequence of alpha-synuclein aggregation.
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