Normal and reversed supramolecular chirality of insulin fibrils probed by vibrational circular dichroism at the protofilament level of fibril structure.
ABSTRACT: Fibrils are ?-sheet-rich aggregates that are generally composed of several protofibrils and may adopt variable morphologies, such as twisted ribbons or flat-like sheets. This polymorphism is observed for many different amyloid associated proteins and polypeptides. In a previous study we proposed the existence of another level of amyloid polymorphism, namely, that associated with fibril supramolecular chirality. Two chiral polymorphs of insulin, which can be controllably grown by means of small pH variations, exhibit opposite signs of vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) spectra. Herein, using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), we demonstrate that indeed VCD supramolecular chirality is correlated not only by the apparent fibril handedness but also by the sense of supramolecular chirality from a deeper level of chiral organization at the protofilament level of fibril structure. Our microscopic examination indicates that normal VCD fibrils have a left-handed twist, whereas reversed VCD fibrils are flat-like aggregates with no obvious helical twist as imaged by atomic force microscopy or scanning electron microscopy. A scheme is proposed consistent with observed data that features a dynamic equilibrium controlled by pH at the protofilament level between left- and right-twist fibril structures with distinctly different aggregation pathways for left- and right-twisted protofilaments.
Project description:The unique enhanced sensitivity of vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) to the formation and development of amyloid fibrils in solution is extended to four additional fibril-forming proteins or peptides where it is shown that the sign of the fibril VCD pattern correlates with the sense of supramolecular filament chirality and, without exception, to the dominant fibril morphology as observed in AFM or SEM images. Previously for insulin, it has been demonstrated that the sign of the VCD band pattern from filament chirality can be controlled by adjusting the pH of the incubating solution, above pH 2 for "normal" left-hand-helical filaments and below pH 2 for "reversed" right-hand-helical filaments. From AFM or SEM images, left-helical filaments form multifilament braids of left-twisted fibrils while the right-helical filaments form parallel filament rows of fibrils with a flat tape-like morphology, the two major classes of fibril morphology that from deep UV resonance Raman scattering exhibit the same cross-?-core secondary structure. Here we investigate whether fibril supramolecular chirality is the underlying cause of the major morphology differences in all amyloid fibrils by showing that the morphology (twisted versus flat) of fibrils of lysozyme, apo-?-lactalbumin, HET-s (218-289) prion, and a short polypeptide fragment of transthyretin, TTR (105-115), directly correlates to their supramolecular chirality as revealed by VCD. The result is strong evidence that the chiral supramolecular organization of filaments is the principal underlying cause of the morphological heterogeneity of amyloid fibrils. Because fibril morphology is linked to cell toxicity, the chirality of amyloid aggregates should be explored in the widely used in vitro models of amyloid-associated diseases.
Project description:Amyloid fibril polymorphism is not well understood despite its potential importance for biological activity and associated toxicity. Controlling the polymorphism of mature fibrils including their morphology and supramolecular chirality by postfibrillation changes in the local environment is the subject of this study. Specifically, the effect of pH on the stability and dynamics of HET-s (218-289) prion fibrils has been determined through the use of vibrational circular dichroism (VCD), deep UV resonance Raman, and fluorescence spectroscopies. It was found that a change in solution pH causes deprotonation of Asp and Glu amino acid residues on the surface of HET-s (218-289) prion fibrils and triggers rapid transformation of one supramolecular chiral polymorph into another. This process involves changes in higher order arrangements like lateral filament and fibril association and their supramolecular chirality, while the fibril cross-? core remains intact. This work suggests a hypothetical mechanism for HET-s (218-289) prion fibril refolding and proposes that the interconversion between fibril polymorphs driven by the solution environment change is a general property of amyloid fibrils.
Project description:Under solution conditions where the native state is destabilized, the largely helical polypeptide hormone insulin readily aggregates to form amyloid fibrils with a characteristic cross-beta structure. However, there is a lack of information relating the 4.8 A beta-strand repeat to the higher order assembly of amyloid fibrils. We have used cryo-electron microscopy (EM), combining single particle analysis and helical reconstruction, to characterize these fibrils and to study the three-dimensional (3D) arrangement of their component protofilaments. Low-resolution 3D structures of fibrils containing 2, 4, and 6 protofilaments reveal a characteristic, compact shape of the insulin protofilament. Considerations of protofilament packing indicate that the cross-beta ribbon is composed of relatively flat beta-sheets rather than being the highly twisted, beta-coil structure previously suggested by analysis of globular protein folds. Comparison of the various fibril structures suggests that very small, local changes in beta-sheet twist are important in establishing the long-range coiling of the protofilaments into fibrils of diverse morphology.
Project description:Amyloid fibrils are highly ordered protein aggregates associated with more than 40 human diseases. The exact conditions under which the fibrils are grown determine many types of reported fibril polymorphism, including different twist patterns. Twist-based polymorphs display unique mechanical properties in vitro, and the relevance of twist polymorphism in amyloid diseases has been suggested. We present transmission electron microscopy images of A?42-derived (amyloid ?) fibrils, which are associated with Alzheimer's disease, demonstrating the presence of twist variability even within a single long fibril. To better understand the molecular underpinnings of twist polymorphism, we present a structural and thermodynamics analysis of molecular dynamics simulations of the twisting of ?-sheet protofilaments of a well-characterized cross-? model: the GNNQQNY peptide from the yeast prion Sup35. The results show that a protofilament model of GNNQQNY is able to adopt twist angles from -11° on the left-hand side to +8° on the right-hand side in response to various external conditions, keeping an unchanged peptide structure. The potential of mean force (PMF) of this cross-? structure upon twisting revealed that only ?2kBT per peptide are needed to stabilize a straight conformation with respect to the left-handed free-energy minimum. The PMF also shows that the canonical structural core of ?-sheets, i.e., the hydrogen-bonded backbone ?-strands, favors the straight conformation. However, the concerted effects of the side chains contribute to twisting, which provides a rationale to correlate polypeptide sequence, environmental growth conditions and number of protofilaments in a fibril with twist polymorphisms.
Project description:Polyglutamine (PolyQ) aggregates are a hallmark of several severe neurodegenerative diseases, expanded CAG-repeat diseases in which inheritance of an expanded polyQ sequence above a pathological threshold is associated with a high risk of disease. Application of vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) reveals that these PolyQ fibril aggregates exhibit a chiral supramolecular organization that is distinct from the supramolecular organization of previously observed amyloid fibrils. PolyQ fibrils grown from monomers with Q repeats 35 and above (Q?35) exhibit approximately 10-fold enhancement of the same VCD spectrum compared to the already enhanced VCD of fibrils formed from Q repeats 30 and below (Q?30).
Project description:Amyloid-[Formula: see text] (A[Formula: see text]) oligomers play a crucial role in Alzheimer's disease due to their neurotoxic aggregation properties. Fibrillar A[Formula: see text] oligomerization can lead to protofilaments and protofilament pairs via oligomer elongation and oligomer association, respectively. Small fibrillar oligomers adopt the protofilament topology, whereas fibrils contain at least protofilament pairs. To date, the underlying growth mechanism from oligomers to the mature fibril still remains to be elucidated. Here, we performed all-atom molecular dynamics simulations in explicit solvent on single layer-like protofilaments and fibril-like protofilament pairs of different size ranging from the tetramer to the 48-mer. We found that the initial U-shaped topology per monomer is maintained over time in all oligomers. The observed deviations of protofilaments from the starting structure increase significantly with size due to the twisting of the in-register parallel [Formula: see text]-sheets. This twist causes long protofilaments to be unstable and leads to a breakage. Protofilament pairs, which are stabilized by a hydrophobic interface, exhibit more fibril-like properties such as the overall structure and the twist angle. Thus, they can act as stable conformational templates for further fibril growth. Key properties like the twist angle, shape complementarity, and energetics show a size-dependent behavior so that small oligomers favor the protofilament topology, whereas large oligomers favor the protofilament pair topology. The region for this conformational transition is at the size of approximately twelve A[Formula: see text] monomers. From that, we propose the following growth mechanism from A[Formula: see text] oligomers to fibrils: (1) elongation of short protofilaments; (2) breakage of large protofilaments; (3) formation of short protofilament pairs; and (4) elongation of protofilament pairs.
Project description:Synchrotron x-ray studies on amyloid fibrils have suggested that the stacked pleated beta-sheets are twisted so that a repeating unit of 24 beta-strands forms a helical turn around the fibril axis (. J. Mol. Biol. 273:729-739). Based on this morphological study, we have constructed an atomic model for the twisted pleated beta-sheet of human Abeta amyloid protofilament. In the model, 48 monomers of Abeta 12-42 stack (four per layer) to form a helical turn of beta-sheet. Each monomer is in an antiparallel beta-sheet conformation with a turn located at residues 25-28. Residues 17-21 and 31-36 form a hydrophobic core along the fibril axis. The hydrophobic core should play a critical role in initializing Abeta aggregation and in stabilizing the aggregates. The model was tested using molecular dynamics simulations in explicit aqueous solution, with the particle mesh Ewald (PME) method employed to accommodate long-range electrostatic forces. Based on the molecular dynamics simulations, we hypothesize that an isolated protofilament, if it exists, may not be twisted, as it appears to be when in the fibril environment. The twisted nature of the protofilaments in amyloid fibrils is likely the result of stabilizing packing interactions of the protofilaments. The model also provides a binding mode for Congo red on Abeta amyloid fibrils. The model may be useful for the design of Abeta aggregation inhibitors.
Project description:Fibrous aggregates of Tau protein are characteristic features of Alzheimer disease. We applied high resolution atomic force and EM microscopy to study fibrils assembled from different human Tau isoforms and domains. All fibrils reveal structural polymorphism; the "thin twisted" and "thin smooth" fibrils resemble flat ribbons (cross-section approximately 10 x 15 nm) with diverse twist periodicities. "Thick fibrils" show periodicities of approximately 65-70 nm and thicknesses of approximately 9-18 nm such as routinely reported for "paired helical filaments" but structurally resemble heavily twisted ribbons. Therefore, thin and thick fibrils assembled from different human Tau isoforms challenge current structural models of paired helical filaments. Furthermore, all Tau fibrils reveal axial subperiodicities of approximately 17-19 nm and, upon exposure to mechanical stress or hydrophobic surfaces, disassemble into uniform fragments that remain connected by thin thread-like structures ( approximately 2 nm). This hydrophobically induced disassembly is inhibited at enhanced electrolyte concentrations, indicating that the fragments resemble structural building blocks and the fibril integrity depends largely on hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions. Because full-length Tau and repeat domain constructs assemble into fibrils of similar thickness, the "fuzzy coat" of Tau protein termini surrounding the fibril axis is nearly invisible for atomic force microscopy and EM, presumably because of its high flexibility.
Project description:Misfolding and amyloid fibril formation by human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) are thought to be important in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes, but the structures of the misfolded forms remain poorly understood. Here we developed an approach that combines site-directed spin labeling with continuous wave and pulsed EPR to investigate local secondary structure and to determine the relative orientation of the secondary structure elements with respect to each other. These data indicated that individual hIAPP molecules take up a hairpin fold within the fibril. This fold contains two ?-strands that are much farther apart than expected from previous models. Atomistic structural models were obtained using computational refinement with EPR data as constraints. The resulting family of structures exhibited a left-handed helical twist, in agreement with the twisted morphology observed by electron microscopy. The fibril protofilaments contain stacked hIAPP monomers that form opposing ?-sheets that twist around each other. The two ?-strands of the monomer adopt out-of-plane positions and are staggered by about three peptide layers (?15 Å). These results provide a mechanism for hIAPP fibril formation and could explain the remarkable stability of the fibrils. Thus, the structural model serves as a starting point for understanding and preventing hIAPP misfolding.
Project description:α-Synuclein (α-syn) amyloid fibrils are the major component of Lewy bodies, which are the pathological hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD) and other synucleinopathies. High-resolution structure of α-syn fibril is important for understanding its assembly and pathological mechanism. Here, we determined a fibril structure of full-length α-syn (1-140) at the resolution of 3.07 Å by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). The fibrils are cytotoxic, and transmissible to induce endogenous α-syn aggregation in primary neurons. Based on the reconstructed cryo-EM density map, we were able to unambiguously build the fibril structure comprising residues 37-99. The α-syn amyloid fibril structure shows two protofilaments intertwining along an approximate 21 screw axis into a left-handed helix. Each protofilament features a Greek key-like topology. Remarkably, five out of the six early-onset PD familial mutations are located at the dimer interface of the fibril (H50Q, G51D, and A53T/E) or involved in the stabilization of the protofilament (E46K). Furthermore, these PD mutations lead to the formation of fibrils with polymorphic structures distinct from that of the wild-type. Our study provides molecular insight into the fibrillar assembly of α-syn at the atomic level and sheds light on the molecular pathogenesis caused by familial PD mutations of α-syn.