The clustering and spatial arrangement of beta-sheet sequence, but not order, govern alpha-synuclein fibrillogenesis.
ABSTRACT: The intrinsically unstructured protein alpha-synuclein (aS) is prone to misfold into cytotoxic beta-sheet-rich oligomers and amyloid fibrils that underlie the pathogenesis of Lewy body diseases such as Parkinson's disease. An important, recognized fibrillogenesis parameter is amino acid content, whereas the influence of amino acid sequence distribution is not as well understood. The fibril core of aS encompasses five regions of high beta-sheet propensity, termed beta1-beta5. Using four aS variants with identical amino acid compositions but rearranged pseudorepeat motifs, we show that beta2-beta5 sequence clustering, but not order, is important for efficient fibrillogenesis. For molecular species progressing toward the fibrillar state, order invariably increases; i.e., the spatial arrangement of sequence elements becomes restricted. By introducing disulfide bonds in a fibril structure-based manner, we demonstrated that a successful protofibril-to-fibril conversion is dependent upon the spatial arrangement of sequence elements of high beta-sheet propensity. Moreover, a disulfide-linked aS dimer is shown to fibrillize rapidly. We propose that a conformational search underlies the emergence of a fibrillar aS nucleus that is directed by gaps in sequence between beta-sheet regions and the accessible range of spatial beta-sheet arrangements in soluble, prefibrillar oligomers. On the basis of the universal cross-beta-sheet structure of amyloid fibrils, these principles are expected to apply to a wide range of amyloidogenic proteins.
Project description:Soluble amyloid oligomers are potent neurotoxins that are involved in a wide range of human degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer disease. In Alzheimer disease, amyloid beta (Abeta) oligomers bind to neuronal synapses, inhibit long term potentiation, and induce cell death. Recent evidence indicates that several immunologically distinct structural variants exist as follows: prefibrillar oligomers (PFOs), fibrillar oligomers (FOs), and annular protofibrils. Despite widespread interest, amyloid oligomers are poorly characterized in terms of structural differences and pathological significance. FOs are immunologically related to fibrils because they react with OC, a conformation-dependent, fibril-specific antibody and do not react with antibodies specific for other types of oligomers. However, fibrillar oligomers are much smaller than fibrils. FOs are soluble at 100,000 x g, rich in beta-sheet structures, but yet bind weakly to thioflavin T. EPR spectroscopy indicates that FOs display significantly more spin-spin interaction at multiple labeled sites than PFOs and are more structurally similar to fibrils. Atomic force microscopy indicates that FOs are approximately one-half to one-third the height of mature fibrils. We found that Abeta FOs do not seed the formation of thioflavin T-positive fibrils from Abeta monomers but instead seed the formation of FOs from Abeta monomers that are positive for the OC anti-fibril antibody. These results indicate that the lattice of FOs is distinct from the fibril lattice even though the polypeptide chains are organized in an immunologically identical conformation. The FOs resulting from seeded reactions have the same dimensions and morphology as the initial seeds, suggesting that the seeds replicate by growing to a limiting size and then splitting, indicating that their lattice is less stable than fibrils. We suggest that FOs may represent small pieces of single fibril protofilament and that the addition of monomers to the ends of FOs is kinetically more favorable than the assembly of the oligomers into fibrils via sheet stacking interaction. These studies provide novel structural insight into the relationship between fibrils and FOs and suggest that the increased toxicity of FOs may be due to their ability to replicate and the exposure of hydrophobic sheet surfaces that are otherwise obscured by sheet-sheet interactions between protofilaments in a fibril.
Project description:The amyloid hypothesis causatively relates the fibrillar deposits of amyloid β peptide (Aβ) to Alzheimer's disease (AD). More recent data, however, identify the soluble oligomers as the major cytotoxic entities. Pyroglutamylated Aβ (pE-Aβ) is present in AD brains and exerts augmented neurotoxicity, which is believed to result from its higher β-sheet propensity and faster fibrillization. While this concept is based on a set of experimental results, others have reported similar β-sheet contents in unmodified and pyroglutamylated Aβ, and slower aggregation of pE-Aβ as compared to unmodified Aβ, leaving the issue unresolved. Here, we assess the structural differences between Aβ and pE-Aβ peptides that may underlie their distinct cytotoxicities. Transmission electron microscopy identifies a larger number of prefibrillar aggregates of pE-Aβ at early stages of aggregation and suggests that pE-Aβ affects the fibrillogenesis even at low molar fractions. Circular dichroism and FTIR data indicate that while the unmodified Aβ readily forms β-sheet fibrils in aqueous media, pE-Aβ displays increased α-helical and decreased β-sheet propensity. Moreover, isotope-edited FTIR spectroscopy shows that pE-Aβ reverses β-sheet formation and hence fibrillogenesis of the unmodified Aβ peptide via a prion-like mechanism. These data provide a novel structural mechanism for pE-Aβ hypertoxicity; pE-Aβ undergoes faster formation of prefibrillar aggregates due to its increased hydrophobicity, thus shifting the initial stages of fibrillogenesis toward smaller, hypertoxic oligomers of partial α-helical structure.
Project description:Merozoite surface protein 2 (MSP2), one of the most abundant proteins on the surface of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites, is a promising malaria vaccine candidate. MSP2 is intrinsically unstructured and forms amyloid-like fibrils in solution. As this propensity of MSP2 to form fibrils in solution has the potential to impede its development as a vaccine candidate, finding an inhibitor that inhibits fibrillogenesis may enhance vaccine development. We have shown previously that EGCG inhibits the formation of MSP2 fibrils. Here we show that EGCG can alter the ?-sheet-like structure of the fibril and disaggregate pre-formed fibrils of MSP2 into soluble oligomers. The fibril remodelling effects of EGCG and other flavonoids were characterised using Thioflavin T fluorescence assays, electron microscopy and other biophysical methods.
Project description:Misfolding and aggregation of normally soluble proteins into amyloid fibrils and their deposition and accumulation underlies a variety of clinically significant diseases. Fibrillar aggregates with amyloid-like properties can also be generated in vitro from pure proteins and peptides, including those not known to be associated with amyloidosis. Whereas biophysical studies of amyloid-like fibrils formed in vitro have provided important insights into the molecular mechanisms of amyloid generation and the structural properties of the fibrils formed, amyloidogenic proteins are typically exposed to mild or more extreme denaturing conditions to induce rapid fibril formation in vitro. Whether the structure of the resulting assemblies is representative of their natural in vivo counterparts, thus, remains a fundamental unresolved issue. Here we show using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy that amyloid-like fibrils formed in vitro from natively folded or unfolded beta(2)-microglobulin (the protein associated with dialysis-related amyloidosis) adopt an identical beta-sheet architecture. The same beta-strand signature is observed whether fibril formation in vitro occurs spontaneously or from seeded reactions. Comparison of these spectra with those of amyloid fibrils extracted from patients with dialysis-related amyloidosis revealed an identical amide I' absorbance maximum, suggestive of a characteristic and conserved amyloid fold. Our results endorse the relevance of biophysical studies for the investigation of the molecular mechanisms of beta(2)-microglobulin fibrillogenesis, knowledge about which may inform understanding of the pathobiology of this protein.
Project description:Protein misfolding and formation of beta-sheet-rich amyloid fibrils or aggregates is related to cellular toxicity and decay in various human disorders including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Recently, we demonstrated that the polyphenol (-)-epi-gallocatechine gallate (EGCG) inhibits alpha-synuclein and amyloid-beta fibrillogenesis. It associates with natively unfolded polypeptides and promotes the self-assembly of unstructured oligomers of a new type. Whether EGCG disassembles preformed amyloid fibrils, however, remained unclear. Here, we show that EGCG has the ability to convert large, mature alpha-synuclein and amyloid-beta fibrils into smaller, amorphous protein aggregates that are nontoxic to mammalian cells. Mechanistic studies revealed that the compound directly binds to beta-sheet-rich aggregates and mediates the conformational change without their disassembly into monomers or small diffusible oligomers. These findings suggest that EGCG is a potent remodeling agent of mature amyloid fibrils.
Project description:?-Synuclein (AS) fibrils are the main protein component of Lewy bodies, the pathological hallmark of Parkinson's disease and other related disorders. AS forms helices that bind phospholipid membranes with high affinity, but no atomic level data for AS aggregation in the presence of lipids is yet available. Here, we present direct evidence of a conversion from ?-helical conformation to ?-sheet fibrils in the presence of anionic phospholipid vesicles and direct conversion to ?-sheet fibrils in their absence. We have trapped intermediate states throughout the fibril formation pathways to examine the structural changes using solid-state NMR spectroscopy and electron microscopy. The comparison between mature AS fibrils formed in aqueous buffer and those derived in the presence of anionic phospholipids demonstrates no major changes in the overall fibril fold. However, a site-specific comparison of these fibrillar states demonstrates major perturbations in the N-terminal domain with a partial disruption of the long ?-strand located in the 40s and small perturbations in residues located in the "non-? amyloid component" (NAC) domain. Combining all these results, we propose a model for AS fibrillogenesis in the presence of phospholipid vesicles.
Project description:The transition of intrinsically disordered, monomeric α-synuclein into β-sheet-rich oligomers and fibrils is associated with multiple neurodegenerative diseases. Fibrillar aggregates possessing distinct structures that differ in toxicity have been observed in different pathological phenotypes. Understanding the mechanism of the formation of various fibril polymorphs with differing cytotoxic effects is essential for determining how the aggregation reaction could be modulated to favor nontoxic fibrils over toxic fibrils. In this study, two morphologically different α-synuclein fibrils, one helical and the other ribbon-like, are shown to form together. Surprisingly, a widely used small molecule for probing aggregation reactions, thioflavin T (ThT), was found to tune the structural heterogeneity found in the fibrils. The ribbon-like fibrils formed in the presence of ThT were found to have a longer structural core than the helical fibrils formed in the absence of ThT. The ribbon-like fibrils are also more toxic to cells. By facilitating the formation of ribbon-like fibrils over helical fibrils, ThT reduced the extent of fibril polymorphism. This study highlights the role of a small molecule such as ThT in selectively favoring the formation of a specific type of fibril by binding to aggregates formed early on one of multiple pathways, thereby altering the structural core and external morphology of the fibrils formed.
Project description:The presence of amyloid deposits consisting primarily of Amyloid-beta (Abeta) fibril in the brain is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The morphologies of these fibrils are exquisitely sensitive to environmental conditions. Using molecular dynamics simulations combined with data from previously published solid-state NMR experiments, we propose the first atomically detailed structures of two asymmetric polymorphs of the Abeta(9-40) peptide fibril. The first corresponds to synthetic fibrils grown under quiescent conditions and the second to fibrils derived from AD patients' brain-extracts. Our core structure in both fibril structures consists of a layered structure in which three cross-beta subunits are arranged in six tightly stacked beta-sheet layers with an antiparallel hydrophobic-hydrophobic and an antiparallel polar-polar interface. The synthetic and brain-derived structures differ primarily in the side-chain orientation of one beta-strand. The presence of a large and continually exposed hydrophobic surface (buried in the symmetric agitated Abeta fibrils) may account for the higher toxicity of the asymmetric fibrils. Our model explains the effects of external perturbations on the fibril lateral architecture as well as the fibrillogenesis inhibiting action of amphiphilic molecules.
Project description:The aggregation of proteins into amyloid fibrils is associated with several neurodegenerative diseases. In Parkinson's disease it is believed that the aggregation of alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn) from monomers by intermediates into amyloid fibrils is the toxic disease-causative mechanism. Here, we studied the structure of alpha-syn in its amyloid state by using various biophysical approaches. Quenched hydrogen/deuterium exchange NMR spectroscopy identified five beta-strands within the fibril core comprising residues 35-96 and solid-state NMR data from amyloid fibrils comprising the fibril core residues 30-110 confirmed the presence of beta-sheet secondary structure. The data suggest that beta1-strand interacts with beta2, beta2 with beta3, beta3 with beta4, and beta4 with beta5. High-resolution cryoelectron microscopy revealed the protofilament boundaries of approximately 2 x 3.5 nm. Based on the combination of these data and published structural studies, a fold of alpha-syn in the fibrils is proposed and discussed.
Project description:Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by fibrillar neuronal inclusions composed of aggregated ?-synuclein (?-syn). These inclusions are associated with behavioral and pathological PD phenotypes. One strategy for therapeutic interventions is to prevent the formation of these inclusions to halt disease progression. ?-Synuclein exists in multiple structural forms, including disordered, nonamyloid oligomers, ordered amyloid oligomers, and fibrils. It is critical to understand which conformers contribute to specific PD phenotypes. Here, we utilized a mouse model to explore the pathological effects of stable ?-amyloid-sheet oligomers compared with those of fibrillar ?-synuclein. We biophysically characterized these species with transmission EM, atomic-force microscopy, CD spectroscopy, FTIR spectroscopy, analytical ultracentrifugation, and thioflavin T assays. We then injected these different ?-synuclein forms into the mouse striatum to determine their ability to induce PD-related phenotypes. We found that ?-sheet oligomers produce a small but significant loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc). Injection of small ?-sheet fibril fragments, however, produced the most robust phenotypes, including reduction of striatal dopamine terminals, SNc loss of dopamine neurons, and motor-behavior defects. We conclude that although the ?-sheet oligomers cause some toxicity, the potent effects of the short fibrillar fragments can be attributed to their ability to recruit monomeric ?-synuclein and spread <i>in vivo</i> and hence contribute to the development of PD-like phenotypes. These results suggest that strategies to reduce the formation and propagation of ?-sheet fibrillar species could be an important route for therapeutic intervention in PD and related disorders.