A protein involved in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease
proteins are produced by three genes. They share structural resemblance to apolipoproteins, but are abundant in the neuronal cytosol and present in enriched amounts at presynaptic terminals.
Synucleins have been specifically implicated in three diseases: Alzheimer's (AD), Parkinson's (PD) and breast cancer. In AD, a peptide derived from α-synuclein forms an intrinsic component of plaque amyloid. In PD, an α-synuclein allele is genetically linked to several independent familial cases, and the protein appears to accumulate in Lewy bodies. In breast cancer, increased expression of γ-synuclein correlates with disease progression.
In songbirds, α-synuclein expression is correlated with plasticity in the developing song control system. Although the normal function of synucleins is unknown, a role in synaptic plasticity seems likely.