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The aberrant aggregation of α-synuclein in the brain is a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD). In vivo soluble α-synuclein occurs as a monomer and several multimers, the latter of which may be important for the biological function of α-synuclein. Currently, there is a lack of reproducible methods to compare α-synuclein multimer abundance between complex biological samples. Here we developed a method, termed “multimer-PAGE,” that combines in-gel chemical cross-linking with several common electrophoretic techniques to measure the stoichiometry of soluble α-synuclein multimers in brain tissue lysates. Results show that soluble α-synuclein from the rat brain exists as several high molecular weight species of approximately 56 kDa (αS56), 80 kDa (αS80), and 100 kDa (αS100) that comigrate with endogenous lipids, detergents, and/or micelles during blue native gel electrophoresis (BN-PAGE). Co-extraction of endogenous lipids with α-synuclein was essential for the detection of soluble α-synuclein multimers. Homogenization of brain tissue in small buffer volumes (>50 mg tissue per 1 mL buffer) increased relative lipid extraction and subsequently resulted in abundant soluble multimer detection via multimer-PAGE. α-Synuclein multimers captured by directly cross-linking soluble lysates resembled those observed following multimer-PAGE. The ratio of multimer (αS80) to monomer (αS17) increased linearly with protein input into multimer-PAGE, suggesting to some extent, multimers were also formed during electrophoresis. Overall, soluble α-synuclein maintains lipid interactions following tissue disruption and readily forms multimers when this lipid–protein complex is preserved. Once the multimer-PAGE technique was validated, relative stoichiometric comparisons could be conducted simultaneously between 14 biological samples. Multimer-PAGE provides a simple inexpensive biochemical technique to study the molecular factors influencing α-synuclein multimerization.


Analytical Chemistry | Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences


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