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Modulation of alpha-synuclein toxicity in yeast using a novel microfluidic-based gradient generator

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tiago OuteiroORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© the Partner Organisations 2014. Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common age-associated neurodegenerative disorder. The protein α-synuclein (aSyn) is a key factor in PD both due to its association with familial and sporadic cases and because it is the main component of the pathological protein aggregates known as Lewy bodies. However, the precise cellular effects of aSyn aggregation are still elusive. Here, we developed an elastomeric microfluidic device equipped with a chemical gradient generator and 9 chambers containing cell traps to study aSyn production and aggregation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This study involved capturing single cells, exposing them to specific chemical environments and imaging the expression of aSyn by means of a GFP fusion (aSyn-GFP). Using a galactose (GAL) gradient we modulated aSyn expression and, surprisingly, by tracking the behavior of single cells, we found that the response of individual cells in a population to a given stimulus can differ widely. To study the combined effect of environmental factors and aSyn expression levels, we exposed cells to a gradient of FeCl3. We found a dramatic increase in the percentage of cells displaying aSyn inclusions from 27% to 96%. Finally, we studied the effects of ascorbic acid, an antioxidant, on aSyn aggregation and found a significant reduction in the percentage of cells bearing aSyn inclusions from 87% to 37%. In summary, the device developed here offers a powerful way of studying aSyn biology with single-cell resolution and high throughput using genetically modified yeast cells.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fernandes JTS, Tenreiro S, Gameiro A, Chu V, Outeiro TF, Conde JP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Lab on a Chip

Year: 2014

Volume: 14

Issue: 20

Pages: 3949-3957

Online publication date: 14/08/2014

Acceptance date: 13/08/2014

Date deposited: 19/12/2017

ISSN (print): 1473-0197

ISSN (electronic): 1473-0189

Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry


DOI: 10.1039/c4lc00756e

PubMed id: 25167219


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