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Spermine increases acetylation of tubulins and facilitates autophagic degradation of prion aggregates.

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Original languageEnglish
Article number10004
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jul 2018


Autolysosomal dysfunction and unstable microtubules are hallmarks of chronic neurodegenerative diseases associated with misfolded proteins. Investigation of
impaired protein quality control and clearance systems could therefore provide an important avenue for intervention. To investigate this we have used a highly controlled model for protein aggregation, an in vitro prion system. Here we report that prion aggregates traffic via autolysosomes in the cytoplasm. Treatment with the natural polyamine spermine clears aggregates by enhancing autolysosomal flux. We demonstrated this by blocking the formation of mature autophagosomes resulting in accumulation of prion aggregates in the cytoplasm. Further we investigated the mechanism of spermine’s mode of action and we demonstrate that spermine increases the acetylation of microtubules, which is known to facilitate retrograde transport of autophagosomes from the cellular periphery to lysosomes located near the nucleus. We further report that spermine facilitates selective autophagic degradation of prion aggregates by binding to microtubule protein Tubb6. This is the first report in which spermine and the pathways regulated by it are applied as a novel approach towards clearance of misfolded prion protein and we suggest that this may have important implication for the broader family of protein misfolding diseases.

    Research areas

  • Spermine, autophagy, protein aggregates, tubulins, retrograde transport, prion

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