Mutations in lysosomal genes increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, as is the case for Parkinson’s disease. Here, we found that pathogenic and protective mutations in arylsulfatase A (ARSA), a gene responsible for metachromatic leukodystrophy, a lysosomal storage disorder, are linked to Parkinson’s disease. Plasma ARSA protein levels were changed in Parkinson’s disease patients. ARSA deficiency caused increases in α-synuclein aggregation and secretion, and increases in α-synuclein propagation in cells and nematodes. Despite being a lysosomal protein, ARSA directly interacts with α-synuclein in the cytosol. The interaction was more extensive with protective ARSA variant and less with pathogenic ARSA variant than wild-type. ARSA inhibited the in vitro fibrillation of α-synuclein in a dose-dependent manner. Ectopic expression of ARSA reversed the α-synuclein phenotypes in both cell and fly models of synucleinopathy, the effects correlating with the extent of the physical interaction between these molecules. Collectively, these results suggest that ARSA is a genetic modifier of Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis, acting as a molecular chaperone for α-synuclein.
Keywords: Parkinson’s disease, α-synuclein, arylsulfatase A, molecular chaperone, protein aggregation and propagation