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Increased palmitoylation improves estrogen receptor alpha–dependent hippocampal synaptic deficits in a mouse model of synucleinopathy
Tim E. Moors, Shaomin Li, Thomas D. McCaffery, Gary P. H. Ho, Pascal A. Bechade, Luu N. Pham, Maria Ericsson, Silke Nuber
Parkinson’s disease, α-synuclein, estradiol, sex dimorphism, estrogen receptor alpha, palmitoylation, ML348
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by conversion of soluble α-synuclein (αS) into intraneuronal aggregates and degeneration of neurons and neuronal processes. Indications that women with early-stage PD display milder neurodegenerative features suggest that female sex partially protects against αS pathology. We previously reported that female sex and estradiol improved αS homeostasis and PD-like phenotypes in E46K-amplified (3K) αS mice. Here, we aimed to further dissect mechanisms that drive this sex dimorphism early in disease. We observed that synaptic abnormalities were delayed in females and improved by estradiol, mediated by local estrogen receptor alpha (ERα). Aberrant ERα distribution in 3K compared to wild-type mice was paired with its decreased palmitoylation. Treatment with ML348, a de-palmitoylation inhibitor, increased ERα availability and soluble αS homeostasis, ameliorating synaptic plasticity and cognitive and motor phenotypes. Our finding that sex differences in early-disease αS–induced synaptic impairment in 3KL mice are in part mediated by palmitoylated ERα may have functional and pathogenic implications for clinical PD.