Levels of supramolecular chirality of polyglutamine aggregates revealed by vibrational circular dichroism.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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 presence of expanded poly-glutamine (polyQ) repeats in proteins is directly linked to the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington's disease. However, the molecular and structural basis underlying the increased toxicity of aggregates formed by proteins containing expanded polyQ repeats remain poorly understood, in part due to the size and morphological heterogeneity of the aggregates they form in vitro. To address this knowledge gap and technical limitations, we investigated the structural, mechanical and morphological properties of fibrillar aggregates at the single molecule and nanometer scale using the first exon of the Huntingtin protein as a model system (Exon1). Our findings demonstrate a direct correlation of the morphological and mechanical properties of Exon1 aggregates with their structural organization at the single aggregate and nanometric scale and provide novel insights into the molecular and structural basis of Huntingtin Exon1 aggregation and toxicity.
Project description:Amyloid-like inclusions have been associated with Huntington's disease (HD), which is caused by expanded polyglutamine repeats in the Huntingtin protein. HD patients exhibit a high incidence of cardiovascular events, presumably as a result of accumulation of toxic amyloid-like inclusions. We have generated a Drosophila model of cardiac amyloidosis that exhibits accumulation of PolyQ aggregates and oxidative stress in myocardial cells, upon heart-specific expression of Huntingtin protein fragments (Htt-PolyQ) with disease-causing poly-glutamine repeats (PolyQ-46, PolyQ-72, and PolyQ-102). Cardiac expression of GFP-tagged Htt-PolyQs resulted in PolyQ length-dependent functional defects that included increased incidence of arrhythmias and extreme cardiac dilation, accompanied by a significant decrease in contractility. Structural and ultrastructural analysis of the myocardial cells revealed reduced myofibrillar content, myofibrillar disorganization, mitochondrial defects and the presence of PolyQ-GFP positive aggregates. Cardiac-specific expression of disease causing Poly-Q also shortens lifespan of flies dramatically. To further confirm the involvement of oxidative stress or protein unfolding and to understand the mechanism of PolyQ induced cardiomyopathy, we co-expressed expanded PolyQ-72 with the antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) or the myosin chaperone UNC-45. Co-expression of SOD suppressed PolyQ-72 induced mitochondrial defects and partially suppressed aggregation as well as myofibrillar disorganization. However, co-expression of UNC-45 dramatically suppressed PolyQ-72 induced aggregation and partially suppressed myofibrillar disorganization. Moreover, co-expression of both UNC-45 and SOD more efficiently suppressed GFP-positive aggregates, myofibrillar disorganization and physiological cardiac defects induced by PolyQ-72 than did either treatment alone. Our results demonstrate that mutant-PolyQ induces aggregates, disrupts the sarcomeric organization of contractile proteins, leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and increases oxidative stress in cardiomyocytes leading to abnormal cardiac function. We conclude that modulation of both protein unfolding and oxidative stress pathways in the Drosophila heart model can ameliorate the detrimental PolyQ effects, thus providing unique insights into the genetic mechanisms underlying amyloid-induced cardiac failure in HD patients.
Project description:Huntington disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expansion of a polyglutamine (polyQ) domain in the N-terminal region of huntingtin (htt). PolyQ expansion above 35-40 results in disease associated with htt aggregation into inclusion bodies. It has been hypothesized that expanded polyQ domains adopt multiple potentially toxic conformations that belong to different aggregation pathways. Here, we used atomic force microscopy to analyze the effect of a panel of anti-htt antibodies (MW1-MW5, MW7, MW8, and 3B5H10) on aggregate formation and the stability of a mutant htt-exon1 fragment. Two antibodies, MW7 (polyproline-specific) and 3B5H10 (polyQ-specific), completely inhibited fibril formation and disaggregated preformed fibrils, whereas other polyQ-specific antibodies had widely varying effects on aggregation. These results suggest that expanded polyQ domains adopt multiple conformations in solution that can be readily distinguished by monoclonal antibodies, which has important implications for understanding the structural basis for polyQ toxicity and the development of intrabody-based therapeutics for HD.
Project description:Nine neurodegenerative disorders, called polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases, are characterized by the formation of intranuclear amyloid-like aggregates by nine proteins containing a polyQ tract above a threshold length. These insoluble aggregates and/or some of their soluble precursors are thought to play a role in the pathogenesis. The mechanism by which polyQ expansions trigger the aggregation of the relevant proteins remains, however, unclear. In this work, polyQ tracts of different lengths were inserted into a solvent-exposed loop of the β-lactamase BlaP and the effects of these insertions on the properties of BlaP were investigated by a range of biophysical techniques. The insertion of up to 79 glutamines does not modify the structure of BlaP; it does, however, significantly destabilize the enzyme. The extent of destabilization is largely independent of the polyQ length, allowing us to study independently the effects intrinsic to the polyQ length and those related to the structural integrity of BlaP on the aggregating properties of the chimeras. Only chimeras with 55Q and 79Q readily form amyloid-like fibrils; therefore, similarly to the proteins associated with diseases, there is a threshold number of glutamines above which the chimeras aggregate into amyloid-like fibrils. Most importantly, the chimera containing 79Q forms amyloid-like fibrils at the same rate whether BlaP is folded or not, whereas the 55Q chimera aggregates into amyloid-like fibrils only if BlaP is unfolded. The threshold value for amyloid-like fibril formation depends, therefore, on the structural integrity of the β-lactamase moiety and thus on the steric and/or conformational constraints applied to the polyQ tract. These constraints have, however, no significant effect on the propensity of the 79Q tract to trigger fibril formation. These results suggest that the influence of the protein context on the aggregating properties of polyQ disease-associated proteins could be negligible when the latter contain particularly long polyQ tracts.
Project description:Huntington's disease is caused by the expansion of a polyglutamine (polyQ) tract in the N-terminal exon of huntingtin (HttEx1), but the cellular mechanisms leading to neurodegeneration remain poorly understood. Here we present in situ structural studies by cryo-electron tomography of an established yeast model system of polyQ toxicity. We find that expression of polyQ-expanded HttEx1 results in the formation of unstructured inclusion bodies and in some cases fibrillar aggregates. This contrasts with recent findings in mammalian cells, where polyQ inclusions were exclusively fibrillar. In yeast, polyQ toxicity correlates with alterations in mitochondrial and lipid droplet morphology, which do not arise from physical interactions with inclusions or fibrils. Quantitative proteomic analysis shows that polyQ aggregates sequester numerous cellular proteins and cause a major change in proteome composition, most significantly in proteins related to energy metabolism. Thus, our data point to a multifaceted toxic gain-of-function of polyQ aggregates, driven by sequestration of endogenous proteins and mitochondrial and lipid droplet dysfunction.
Project description:Polyglutamine (polyQ) amyloid fibrils are observed in disease tissue and have been implicated as toxic agents responsible for neurodegeneration in expanded CAG repeat diseases such as Huntington's disease. Despite intensive efforts, the mechanism of amyloid toxicity remains unknown. As a novel approach to probing polyQ toxicity, we investigate here how some cellular and physical properties of polyQ amyloid vary with the chirality of the glutamine residues in the polyQ. We challenged PC12 cells with small amyloid fibrils composed of either L- or D-polyQ peptides and found that D-fibrils are as cytotoxic as L-fibrils. We also found using fluorescence microscopy that both aggregates effectively seed the aggregation of cell-produced L-polyQ proteins, suggesting a surprising lack of stereochemical restriction in seeded elongation of polyQ amyloid. To investigate this effect further, we studied chemically synthesized D- and L-polyQ in vitro. We found that, as expected, D-polyQ monomers are not recognized by proteins that recognize L-polyQ monomers. However, amyloid fibrils prepared from D-polyQ peptides can efficiently seed the aggregation of L-polyQ monomers in vitro, and vice versa. This result is consistent with our cell results on polyQ recruitment but is inconsistent with previous literature reports on the chiral specificity of amyloid seeding. This chiral cross-seeding can be rationalized by a model for seeded elongation featuring a "rippled ?-sheet" interface between seed fibril and docked monomers of opposite chirality. The lack of chiral discrimination in polyQ amyloid cytotoxicity is consistent with several toxicity mechanisms, including recruitment of cellular polyQ proteins.
Project description:Expanded CAG diseases are progressive neurodegenerative disorders in which specific proteins have an unusually long polyglutamine stretch. Although these proteins share no other sequence or structural homologies, they all aggregate into intracellular inclusions that are believed to be pathological. We sought to determine what impact the position and number of glutamines have on the structure and aggregation of the host protein, apomyoglobin. Variable-length polyQ tracts were inserted either into the loop between the C- and D-helices (Q(n)CD) or at the N-terminus (Q(n)NT). The Q(n)CD mutants lost some ?-helix and gained unordered and/or ?-sheet in a length-dependent manner. These mutants were partially unfolded and rapidly assembled into soluble chain-like oligomers. In sharp contrast, the Q(n)NT mutants largely retained wild-type tertiary structure but associated into long, fibrillar aggregates. Control proteins with glycine-serine repeats (GS(8)CD and GS(8)NT) were produced. GS(8)CD exhibited similar structural perturbations and aggregation characteristics to an analogously sized Q(16)CD, indicating that the observed effects are independent of amino acid composition. In contrast to Q(16)NT, GS(8)NT did not form fibrillar aggregates. Thus, soluble oligomers are produced through structural perturbation and do not require polyQ, whereas classic fibrils arise from specific polyQ intermolecular interactions in the absence of misfolding.
Project description:Fibrillar aggregation of the protein ataxin-3 is linked to the inherited neurodegenerative disorder Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3, a member of the polyQ expansion disease family. We previously reported that aggregation and stability of the nonpathological form of ataxin-3, carrying an unexpanded polyQ tract, are modulated by its N-terminal Josephin domain. It was also shown that expanded ataxin-3 aggregates via a two-stage mechanism initially involving Josephin self-association, followed by a polyQ-dependent step. Despite this recent progress, however, the exact mechanism of ataxin-3 fibrilization remains elusive. Here, we have used electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and other biophysical techniques to characterize the morphological and mechanical properties of nonexpanded ataxin-3 fibrils. By comparing aggregates of ataxin-3 and of the isolated Josephin domain, we show that the two proteins self-assemble into fibrils with markedly similar features over the temperature range 37-50°C. Estimates of persistence length and Young's modulus of the fibrils reveal a great flexibility. Our data indicate that, under physiological conditions, during early aggregation Josephin retains a nativelike secondary structure but loses its enzymatic activity. The results suggest a key role of Josephin in ataxin-3 fibrillar aggregation.