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Irreversible incorporation of L-dopa into the C-terminus of a.tubulin inhibits binding of molecular motor KIF5B to microtubules  and alters mitochondrial traffic along the axon


L-dopa is the most effective drug used to date for management of Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Unfortunately, long-term administration of L-dopa often results in development of motor disorders, including dyskinesias. Despite extensive research on L-dopa-induced dyskinesia, its pathogenesis remains poorly understood. We demonstrated previously that L-dopa can be post-translationally incorporated into the C-terminus of α-tubulin in living cells. In the present study, we investigated the effect of the presence of L-dopa-tubulin-enriched microtubules on mitochondrial traffic mediated by molecular motor KIF5B. Using biochemical approaches in combination with experiments on neuronal cell lines and mouse hippocampal primary cultures, we demonstrated that L-dopa incorporation into tubulin is irreversible. Transport of mitochondria along the axon was altered after L-dopa treatment of cells. In L-dopa-treated cells, mitochondria had reduced ability to reach the distal segment of the axon, spent more time in pause, and showed reduced velocity of anterograde movement. KIF5B motor, a member of the kinesin family involved in mitochondrial transport in neurons, showed reduced affinity for Dopa-tubulin-containing microtubules. Our findings, taken together, suggest that tyrosination state of tubulin (and microtubules) is altered by L-dopa incorporation into tubulin; the gradual increase in amount of altered microtubules affects microtubule functioning, impairs mitochondrial traffic and distribution, and this could be relevant in Parkinson’s disease patients chronically treated with L-dopa.

Agustina Zorgniotti, Yanina Ditamo, Carlos A. Arce, C. Gaston Bisig

Neurobiology of Disease, Vol. 147, 2021, 105164, ISSN 0969-9961,