Polymorphism of Alpha-Synuclein Amyloid Fibrils Depends on Ionic Strength and Protein Concentration.
ABSTRACT: Protein aggregate formation is linked with multiple amyloidoses, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Currently, the understanding of such fibrillar structure formation and propagation is still not sufficient, the outcome of which is a lack of potent, anti-amyloid drugs. The environmental conditions used during in vitro protein aggregation assays play an important role in determining both the aggregation kinetic parameters, as well as resulting fibril structure. In the case of alpha-synuclein, ionic strength has been shown as a crucial factor in its amyloid aggregation. In this work, we examine a large sample size of alpha-synuclein aggregation reactions under thirty different ionic strength and protein concentration combinations and determine the resulting fibril structural variations using their dye-binding properties, secondary structure and morphology. We show that both ionic strength and protein concentration determine the structural variability of alpha-synuclein amyloid fibrils and that sometimes even identical conditions can result in up to four distinct types of aggregates.
Project description:The formation and accumulation of protein amyloid aggregates is linked with multiple amyloidoses, including neurodegenerative Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. The mechanism of such fibril formation is impacted by various environmental conditions, which greatly complicates the search for potential anti-amyloid compounds. One of these factors is solution ionic strength, which varies between different aggregation protocols during in vitro drug screenings. In this work, we examine the interplay between ionic strength and a well-known protein aggregation inhibitor—epigallocatechin-3-gallate. We show that changes in solution ionic strength have a major impact on the compound’s inhibitory effect, reflected in both aggregation times and final fibril structure. We also observe that this effect is unique to different amyloid-forming proteins, such as insulin, alpha-synuclein and amyloid-beta.
Project description:The aggregation of the intrinsically disordered protein alpha-synuclein (?S) into amyloid fibrils is thought to play a central role in the pathology of Parkinson's disease. Using a combination of techniques (AFM, UV-CD, XRD, and amide-I 1D- and 2D-IR spectroscopy) we show that the structure of ?S fibrils varies as a function of ionic strength: fibrils aggregated in low ionic-strength buffers ([NaCl]???25?mM) have a significantly different structure than fibrils grown in higher ionic-strength buffers. The observations for fibrils aggregated in low-salt buffers are consistent with an extended conformation of ?S molecules, forming hydrogen-bonded intermolecular ?-sheets that are loosely packed in a parallel fashion. For fibrils aggregated in high-salt buffers (including those prepared in buffers with a physiological salt concentration) the measurements are consistent with ?S molecules in a more tightly-packed, antiparallel intramolecular conformation, and suggest a structure characterized by two twisting stacks of approximately five hydrogen-bonded intermolecular ?-sheets each. We find evidence that the high-frequency peak in the amide-I spectrum of ?S fibrils involves a normal mode that differs fundamentally from the canonical high-frequency antiparallel ?-sheet mode. The high sensitivity of the fibril structure to the ionic strength might form the basis of differences in ?S-related pathologies.
Project description:A range of diseases is associated with amyloid fibril formation. Despite different proteins being responsible for each disease, all of them share similar features including beta-sheet-rich secondary structure and fibril-like protein aggregates. A number of proteins can form amyloid-like fibrils in vitro, resembling structural features of disease-related amyloids. Given these generic structural properties of amyloid and amyloid-like fibrils, generic inhibitors of fibril formation would be of interest for treatment of amyloid diseases. Recently, we identified five outstanding inhibitors of insulin amyloid-like fibril formation among the pool of 265 commercially available flavone derivatives. Here we report testing of these five compounds and of epi-gallocatechine-3-gallate (EGCG) on aggregation of alpha-synuclein and beta-amyloid. We used a Thioflavin T (ThT) fluorescence assay, relying on halftimes of aggregation as the measure of inhibition. This method avoids large numbers of false positive results. Our data indicate that four of the five flavones and EGCG inhibit alpha-synuclein aggregation in a concentration-dependent manner. However none of these derivatives were able to increase halftimes of aggregation of beta-amyloid.
Project description:Several intrinsically disordered proteins have been implicated in the process of amyloid fibril formation in neurodegenerative disease, and developing approaches to inhibit the aggregation of these intrinsically disordered proteins is critical for establishing effective therapies against disease progression. The aggregation pathway of the intrinsically disordered protein alpha-synuclein, which is implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases known as synucleinopathies, has been extensively characterized. Less attention has been leveraged on beta-synuclein, a homologous intrinsically disordered protein that co-localizes with alpha-synuclein and is known to delay alpha-synuclein fibril formation. In this review, we focus on beta-synuclein and the molecular-level interactions between alpha-synuclein and beta-synuclein that underlie the delay of fibril formation. We highlight studies that begin to define alpha-synuclein and beta-synuclein interactions at the monomer, oligomer, and surface levels, and suggest that beta-synuclein plays a role in regulation of inhibition at many different stages of alpha-synuclein aggregation.
Project description:Amyloid fibril formation is a distinctive hallmark of a number of degenerative diseases. In this process, protein monomers self-assemble to form insoluble structures that are generally referred to as amyloid fibrils. We have induced in vitro amyloid fibril formation of a PDZ domain by combining mechanical agitation and high ionic strength under conditions otherwise close to physiological (pH 7.0, 37 degrees C, no added denaturants). The resulting aggregates enhance the fluorescence of the thioflavin T dye via a sigmoidal kinetic profile. Both infrared spectroscopy and circular dichroism spectroscopy detect the formation of a largely intermolecular beta-sheet structure. Atomic force microscopy shows straight, rod-like fibrils that are similar in appearance and height to mature amyloid-like fibrils. Under these conditions, before aggregation, the protein domain adopts an essentially native-like structure and an even higher conformational stability (DeltaG(U-F)(H2O)). These results show a new method for converting initially folded proteins into amyloid-like aggregates. The methodological approach used here does not require denaturing conditions; rather, it couples agitation with a high ionic strength. Such an approach offers new opportunities to investigate protein aggregation under conditions in which a globular protein is initially folded, and to elucidate the physical forces that promote amyloid fibril formation.
Project description:Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with the formation of ?-synuclein amyloid fibrils. Elucidating the role of these ?-sheet-rich fibrils in disease progression is crucial; however, collecting detailed structural information on amyloids is inherently difficult because of their insoluble, non-crystalline, and polymorphic nature. Here, we show that Raman spectroscopy is a facile technique for characterizing structural features of ?-synuclein fibrils. Combining Raman spectroscopy with aggregation kinetics and transmission electron microscopy, we examined the effects of pH and ionic strength as well as four PD-related mutations (A30P, E46K, G51D, and A53T) on ?-synuclein fibrils. Raman spectral differences were observed in the amide-I, amide-III, and fingerprint regions, indicating that secondary structure and tertiary contacts are influenced by pH and to a lesser extent by NaCl. Faster aggregation times appear to facilitate unique fibril structure as determined by the highly reproducible amide-I band widths, linking aggregation propensity and fibril polymorphism. Importantly, Raman spectroscopy revealed molecular-level perturbations of fibril conformation by the PD-related mutations that are not apparent through transmission electron microscopy or limited proteolysis. The amide-III band was found to be particularly sensitive, with G51D exhibiting the most distinctive features, followed by A53T and E46K. Relating to a cellular environment, our data would suggest that fibril polymorphs can be formed in different cellular compartments and potentially result in distinct phenotypes. Our work sets a foundation toward future cellular Raman studies of amyloids.
Project description:Parkinson's disease, the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder worldwide, is characterized by a progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in substantia nigra pars compacta, causing motor symptoms. This disorder's main hallmark is the formation of intraneuronal protein inclusions, named Lewy bodies and neurites. The major component of these arrangements is α-synuclein, an intrinsically disordered and soluble protein that, in pathological conditions, can form toxic and cell-to-cell transmissible amyloid structures. Preventing α-synuclein aggregation has attracted significant effort in the search for a disease-modifying therapy for Parkinson's disease. Small molecules like SynuClean-D, epigallocatechin gallate, trodusquemine, or anle138b exemplify this therapeutic potential. Here, we describe a subset of compounds containing a single aromatic ring, like dopamine, ZPDm, gallic acid, or entacapone, which act as molecular chaperones against α-synuclein aggregation. The simplicity of their structures contrasts with the complexity of the aggregation process, yet the block efficiently α-synuclein assembly into amyloid fibrils, in many cases, redirecting the reaction towards the formation of non-toxic off-pathway oligomers. Moreover, some of these compounds can disentangle mature α-synuclein amyloid fibrils. Their simple structures allow structure-activity relationship analysis to elucidate the role of different functional groups in the inhibition of α-synuclein aggregation and fibril dismantling, making them informative lead scaffolds for the rational development of efficient drugs.
Project description:The formation of amyloid fibrils is a characterizing feature of a range of protein misfolding diseases, including Parkinson's disease. The propensity of native proteins to form such amyloid fibril, both <i>in vitro</i> and <i>in vivo</i>, is highly sensitive to the surrounding environment, which can alter the aggregation kinetics and fibrillization mechanisms. Here, we investigate systematically the influence of several representative environmental stimuli on α-synuclein aggregation, including hydrodynamic mixing, the presence of an air-water interface and sedimentation. Our results show that hydrodynamic mixing and interfacial effects are critical in promoting several microscopic steps of α-synuclein aggregation and amyloid fibril formation. The presence of an air-water interface under agitation significantly promoted primary nucleation. Secondary processes were facilitated by hydrodynamic mixing, produced by 3D rotation and shaking either in the presence or in the absence of an air-water interface. Effects of sedimentation, as investigated in a microgravity incubator, of α-synuclein lead only to minor changes on the aggregation kinetics rates in comparison to static conditions. These results forward the understanding of α-synuclein fibrillization, paving the way for the development of high-throughput assays for the screening of pharmacological approaches targeting Parkinson's disease.
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:Studying the aggregation of amyloid proteins like α-synuclein <i>in vitro</i> is a convenient and popular tool to gain kinetic insights into aggregation as well as to study factors (<i>e.g.</i>, aggregation inhibitors) that influence it. These aggregation assays typically make use of the fluorescence dye Thioflavin T as a sensitive fluorescence reporter of amyloid fibril formation and are conducted in a plate-reader-based format, permitting the simultaneous screening of multiple samples and conditions. However, aggregation assays are generally prone to poor reproducibility due to the stochastic nature of fibril nucleation and the multiplicity of modulating factors. Here we present a simple and reproducible protocol to study the aggregation of α-synuclein in a plate-reader based assay.