Synthetic NAC 71-82 Peptides Designed to Produce Fibrils with Different Protofilament Interface Contacts.
ABSTRACT: Alpha-synucleinopathies are featured by fibrillar inclusions in brain cells. Although α-synuclein fibrils display structural diversity, the origin of this diversity is not fully understood. We used molecular dynamics simulations to design synthetic peptides, based on the NAC 71-82 amino acid fragment of α-synuclein, that govern protofilament contacts and generation of twisted fibrillar polymorphs. Four peptides with structures based on either single or double fragments and capped or non-capped ends were selected for further analysis. We determined the fibrillar yield and the structures from these peptides found in the solution after fibrillisation using protein concentration determination assay and circular dichroism spectroscopy. In addition, we characterised secondary structures formed by individual fibrillar complexes using laser-tweezers Raman spectroscopy. Results suggest less mature fibrils, based on the lower relative β-sheet content for double- than single-fragment peptide fibrils. We confirmed this structural difference by TEM analysis which revealed, in addition to short protofibrils, more elongated, twisted and rod-like fibril structures in non-capped and capped double-fragment peptide systems, respectively. Finally, time-correlated single-photon counting demonstrated a difference in the Thioflavin T fluorescence lifetime profiles upon fibril binding. It could be proposed that this difference originated from morphological differences in the fibril samples. Altogether, these results highlight the potential of using peptide models for the generation of fibrils that share morphological features relevant for disease, e.g., twisted and rod-like polymorphs.
Project description:?-Synuclein (aSyn) fibrillar polymorphs have distinct in vitro and in vivo seeding activities, contributing differently to synucleinopathies. Despite numerous prior attempts, how polymorphic aSyn fibrils differ in atomic structure remains elusive. Here, we present fibril polymorphs from the full-length recombinant human aSyn and their seeding capacity and cytotoxicity in vitro. By cryo-electron microscopy helical reconstruction, we determine the structures of the two predominant species, a rod and a twister, both at 3.7?Å resolution. Our atomic models reveal that both polymorphs share a kernel structure of a bent ?-arch, but differ in their inter-protofilament interfaces. Thus, different packing of the same kernel structure gives rise to distinct fibril polymorphs. Analyses of disease-related familial mutations suggest their potential contribution to the pathogenesis of synucleinopathies by altering population distribution of the fibril polymorphs. Drug design targeting amyloid fibrils in neurodegenerative diseases should consider the formation and distribution of concurrent fibril polymorphs.
Project description:The 71-82 fragment of the non-amyloid-? component (NAC) region of the Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) related protein ?-Synuclein, has been reported to be important during protein misfolding. Although reports have demonstrated the importance of this fragment for the aggregation properties of the full-length protein, its exact role in pre-fibrillar oligomerisation, fibrillar growth and morphology has not yet been fully elucidated. Here, we provide evidence that fibrils prepared from an acetylated and methyl amidated peptide of the NAC 71-82 amino acid stretch of ?-Synuclein are amyloid and contain, in addition to the cross-? structure detected in the full-length protein fibrils, a cross-? structure previously observed in prion proteins. These results shed light on the aggregation propensity of the NAC 71-82 amino acid stretch of the full-length protein but also the roles of the N- and C-terminal domains of ?-Synuclein in balancing this aggregation propensity. The results also suggest that early aggregated forms of the capped NAC 71-82 peptide generated structures were stabilised by an anti-parallel and twisted ?-sheet motif. Due to its expected toxicity, this ?-sheet motif may be a promising molecular target for the development of therapeutic strategies for PD and DLB.
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:Amyloid fibrils are ?-sheet-rich protein aggregates that are strongly associated with a variety of neurodegenerative maladies, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Even if the secondary structure of such fibrils is well characterized, a thorough understanding of their surface organization still remains elusive. Tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) is one of a few techniques that allow the direct characterization of the amino acid composition and the protein secondary structure of the amyloid fibril surface. Herein, we investigated the surfaces of two insulin fibril polymorphs with flat (flat) and left-twisted (twisted) morphology. It was found that the two differ substantially in both amino acid composition and protein secondary structure. For example, the amounts of Tyr, Pro, and His differ, as does the number of carboxyl groups on the respective surfaces, whereas the amounts of Phe and of positively charged amino and imino groups remain similar. In addition, the surface of protofilaments, the precursors of the mature flat and twisted fibrils, was investigated using TERS. The results show substantial differences with respect to the mature fibrils. A correlation of amino acid frequencies and protein secondary structures on the surface of protofilaments and on flat and twisted fibrils allowed us to propose a hypothetical mechanism for the propagation to specific fibril polymorphs. This knowledge can shed a light on the toxicity of amyloids and define the key factors responsible for fibril polymorphism. Finally, this work demonstrates the potential of TERS for the surface characterization of amyloid fibril polymorphs.
Project description:Intracellular inclusions rich in alpha-synuclein are a hallmark of several neuropathological diseases including Parkinson's disease (PD). Previously, we reported the structure of alpha-synuclein fibrils (residues 1-121), composed of two protofibrils that are connected via a densely-packed interface formed by residues 50-57 (Guerrero-Ferreira, eLife 218;7:e36402). We here report two new polymorphic atomic structures of alpha-synuclein fibrils termed polymorphs 2a and 2b, at 3.0 Å and 3.4 Å resolution, respectively. These polymorphs show a radically different structure compared to previously reported polymorphs. The new structures have a 10 nm fibril diameter and are composed of two protofilaments which interact via intermolecular salt-bridges between amino acids K45, E57 (polymorph 2a) or E46 (polymorph 2b). The non-amyloid component (NAC) region of alpha-synuclein is fully buried by previously non-described interactions with the N-terminus. A hydrophobic cleft, the location of familial PD mutation sites, and the nature of the protofilament interface now invite to formulate hypotheses about fibril formation, growth and stability.
Project description:α-Synuclein (α-syn), as a primary pathogenic protein in Parkinson's disease (PD) and other synucleinopathies, exhibits a high potential to form polymorphic fibrils. Chemical ligands have been found to involve in the assembly of α-syn fibrils in patients' brains. However, how ligands influence the fibril polymorphism remains vague. Here, we report the near-atomic structures of α-syn fibrils in complex with heparin, a representative glycosaminoglycan (GAG), determined by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). The structures demonstrate that the presence of heparin completely alters the fibril assembly via rearranging the charge interactions of α-syn both at the intramolecular and the inter-protofilamental levels, which leads to the generation of four fibril polymorphs. Remarkably, in one of the fibril polymorphs, α-syn folds into a distinctive conformation that has not been observed previously. Moreover, the heparin-α-syn complex fibrils exhibit diminished neuropathology in primary neurons. Our work provides the structural mechanism for how heparin determines the assembly of α-syn fibrils, and emphasizes the important role of biological polymers in the conformational selection and neuropathology regulation of amyloid fibrils.
Project description:α-Synuclein (α-Syn) can form different fibril strains with distinct polymorphs and neuropathologies, which is associated with the clinicopathological variability in synucleinopathies. How different α-syn fibril strains are produced and selected under disease conditions remains poorly understood. In this study, we show that the hereditary mutation G51D induces α-syn to form a distinct fibril strain in vitro. The cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of the G51D fibril strain was determined at 2.96 Å resolution. The G51D fibril displays a relatively small and extended serpentine fold distinct from other α-syn fibril structures. Moreover, we show by cryo-EM that wild-type (WT) α-syn can assembly into the G51D fibril strain via cross-seeding with G51D fibrils. Our study reveals a distinct structure of G51D fibril strain triggered by G51D mutation but feasibly adopted by both WT and G51D α-syn, which suggests the cross-seeding and strain selection of WT and mutant α-syn in familial Parkinson’s disease (fPD). G51D mutation of α-synuclein (α-syn) causes a subset of familial Parkinson’s disease that is characterized by an early onset and rapid progression of the disease. Here, the authors present the cryo-EM structure of full-length G51D α-syn fibrils that is distinct from other known α-syn fibril structures, and they show that G51D fibrils can cross-seed wild-type (WT) α-syn and that these cross-seeded WT fibrils replicate the G51D fibril structure.
Project description:Formation of polymorphic amyloid fibrils is a common feature in neurodegenerative diseases involving protein aggregation. In Alzheimer's disease, different fibril structures may be associated with different clinical sub-types. Structural basis of fibril polymorphism is thus important for understanding the role of amyloid fibrils in the pathogenesis and progression of these diseases. Here we studied two types of A?42 fibrils prepared under quiescent and agitated conditions. Quiescent A?42 fibrils adopt a long and twisted morphology, while agitated fibrils are short and straight, forming large bundles via lateral association. EPR studies of these two types of A?42 fibrils show that the secondary structure is similar in both fibril polymorphs. At the same time, agitated A?42 fibrils show stronger interactions between spin labels across the full range of the A?42 sequence, suggesting a more tightly packed structure. Our data suggest that cross-strand side chain packing interactions within the same ?-sheet may play a critical role in the formation of polymorphic fibrils.
Project description:Synucleinopathies are neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the presence of intracellular deposits containing the protein alpha-synuclein (aSYN) within patients' brains. It has been shown that aSYN can form structurally distinct fibrillar assemblies, also termed polymorphs. We previously showed that distinct aSYN polymorphs assembled in vitro, named fibrils, ribbons, and fibrils 91, differentially bind to and seed the aggregation of endogenous aSYN in neuronal cells, which suggests that distinct synucleinopathies may arise from aSYN polymorphs. In order to better understand the differential interactions of aSYN polymorphs with their partner proteins, we mapped aSYN polymorphs surfaces. We used limited proteolysis, hydrogen-deuterium exchange, and differential antibody accessibility to identify amino acids on their surfaces. We showed that the aSYN C-terminal region spanning residues 94 to 140 exhibited similarly high solvent accessibility in these three polymorphs. However, the N-terminal amino acid residues 1 to 38 of fibrils were exposed to the solvent, while only residues 1 to 18 within fibrils 91 were exposed, and no N-terminal residues within ribbons were solvent-exposed. It is likely that these differences in surface accessibility contribute to the differential binding of distinct aSYN polymorphs to partner proteins. We thus posit that the polypeptides exposed on the surface of distinct aSYN fibrillar polymorphs are comparable to fingerprints. Our findings have diagnostic and therapeutic potential, particularly in the prion-like propagation of fibrillar aSYN, as they can facilitate the design of ligands that specifically bind and distinguish between fibrillar polymorphs.
Project description:Within the homologous series of amphiphilic peptides A<sub><i>n</i></sub>K, both A<sub>8</sub>K and A<sub>10</sub>K self-assemble in water to form twisted ribbon fibrils with lengths around 100 nm. The structure of the fibrils can be described in terms of twisted β-sheets extending in the direction of the fibrils, laminated to give a constant cross section of 4 nm by 8 nm. The finite width of the twisted ribbons can be reasonably explained within a simple thermodynamic model, considering a free energy penalty for the stretching of hydrogen bonds along the twisted β-sheets and an interfacial free energy gain for the lamination of the hydrophobic β-sheets. In this study, we characterize the self-assembly behavior of these peptides in nonaqueous solutions as a route to probe the role of hydrophobic interaction in fibril stabilization. Both peptides, in methanol and <i>N</i>,<i>N</i>-dimethylformamide, were found to form fibrillar aggregates with the same β-sheet structure as in water but with slightly smaller cross-sectional sizes. However, the gel-like texture, the slow relaxation in dynamic light scattering experiments, and a correlation peak in the small-angle X-ray scattering pattern highlighted enhanced interfibril interactions in the nonaqueous solvents in the same concentration range. This could be ascribed to a higher effective volume of the aggregates because of enhanced fibril growth and length, as suggested by light scattering and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy analyses. These effects can be discussed considering how the solvent properties affect the different energetic contributions (hydrophobic, electrostatic, and hydrogen bonding) to fibril formation. In the analyzed case, the decreased hydrogen bonding propensity of the nonaqueous solvents makes the hydrogen bond formation along the fibril a key driving force for peptide assembly, whereas it represents a nonrelevant contribution in water.