Elife. 2023 Jan 10;12:e85837. doi: 10.7554/eLife.85837. Online ahead of print.
Alpha-synuclein (α-syn), a major component of Lewy bodies found in Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients, has been found exported outside of cells and may mediate its toxicity via cell-to-cell transmission. Here, we reconstituted soluble, monomeric a-syn secretion by the expression of DnaJ homolog subfamily C member 5 (DNAJC5) in HEK293T cells. DNAJC5 undergoes palmitoylation and anchors on the membrane. Palmitoylation is essential for DNAJC5-induced α-syn secretion, and the secretion is not limited by substrate size or unfolding. Cytosolic α-syn is actively translocated and sequestered in an endosomal membrane compartment in a DNAJC5-dependent manner. Reduction of α-syn secretion caused by a palmitoylation-deficient mutation in DNAJC5 can be reversed by a membrane-targeting peptide fusion-induced oligomerization of DNAJC5. The secretion of endogenous α-syn mediated by DNAJC5 is also found in a human neuroblastoma cell line, SH-SY5Y, differentiated into neurons in the presence of retinoic acid, and in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived midbrain dopamine neurons. We propose that DNAJC5 forms a palmitoylated oligomer to accommodate and export α-syn.