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(175 References)

Kheterpal, I., H. A. Lashuel, et al. (2003). "Abeta Protofibrils Possess a Stable Core Structure Resistant to Hydrogen Exchange." Biochemistry 42(48): 14092-14098.

            Protofibrils are transient structures observed during in vitro formation of mature amyloid fibrils and have been implicated as the toxic species responsible for cell dysfunction and neuronal loss in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other protein aggregation diseases. To better understand the roles of protofibrils in amyloid assembly and Alzheimer's disease, we characterized secondary structural features of these heterogeneous and metastable assembly intermediates. We chromatographically isolated different size populations of protofibrils from amyloid assembly reactions of Abeta(1-40), both wild type and the Arctic variant associated with early onset familial AD, and exposed them to hydrogen-deuterium exchange analysis monitored by mass spectrometry (HX-MS). We show that HX-MS can distinguish among unstructured monomer, protofibrils, and fibrils by their different protection patterns. We find that about 40% of the backbone amide hydrogens of Abeta protofibrils are highly resistant to exchange with deuterium even after 2 days of incubation in aqueous deuterated buffer, implying a very stable, presumably H-bonded, core structure. This is in contrast to mature amyloid fibrils, whose equally stable structure protects about 60% of the backbone amide hydrogens over the same time frame. We also find a surprising degree of specificity in amyloid assembly, in that wild type Abeta is preferentially excluded from both protofibrils and fibrils grown from an equimolar mixture of wild type and Arctic mutant peptides. These and other data are interpreted and discussed in terms of the role of protofibrils in fibril assembly and in disease.


Lashuel, H. A., D. M. Hartley, et al. (2003). "Mixtures of Wild-type and a Pathogenic (E22G) Form of Abeta40 in Vitro Accumulate Protofibrils, Including Amyloid Pores." J Mol Biol 332(4): 795-808.

            Although APP mutations associated with inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) are relatively rare, detailed studies of these mutations may prove critical for gaining important insights into the mechanism(s) and etiology of AD. Here, we present a detailed biophysical characterization of the structural properties of protofibrils formed by the Arctic variant (E22G) of amyloid-beta protein (Abeta40(ARC)) as well as the effect of Abeta40(WT) on the distribution of the protofibrillar species formed by Abeta40(ARC) by characterizing biologically relevant mixtures of both proteins that may mimic the situation in the heterozygous patients. These studies revealed that the Arctic mutation accelerates both Abeta oligomerization and fibrillogenesis in vitro. In addition, Abeta40(ARC) was observed to affect both the morphology and the size distribution of Abeta protofibrils. Electron microscopy examination of the protofibrils formed by Abeta40(ARC) revealed several morphologies, including: (1) relatively compact spherical particles roughly 4-5 nm in diameter; (2) annular pore-like protofibrils; (3) large spherical particles 18-25 nm in diameter; and (4) short filaments with chain-like morphology. Conversion of Abeta40(ARC) protofibrils to fibrils occurred more rapidly than protofibrils formed in mixed solutions of Abeta40(WT)/Abeta40(ARC), suggesting that co-incubation of Abeta40(ARC) with Abeta40(WT) leads to kinetic stabilization of Abeta40(ARC) protofibrils. An increase in the ratio of Abeta(WT)/Abeta(MUT(Arctic)), therefore, may result in the accumulation of potential neurotoxic protofibrils and acceleration of disease progression in familial Alzheimer's disease mutation carriers.


Zhu, M., J. Li, et al. (2003). "The association of alpha-synuclein with membranes affects bilayer structure, stability and fibril formation." J Biol Chem.

            The aggregation of alpha-synuclein is believed to be a critical factor in the etiology of Parkinsons disease. Alpha-synuclein is an abundant neuronal protein of unknown function, which is enriched in the presynaptic terminals of neurons. Although alpha-synuclein is found predominantly in the cytosolic fractions, membrane-bound alpha-synuclein has been suggested to play an important role in fibril formation. The effects of alpha-synuclein on lipid bilayers of different compositions were determined using fluorescent environment-specific probes located at various depths. Alpha-synuclein-membrane interactions were found to affect both protein and membrane properties. Our results indicate that in addition to electrostatic interactions, hydrophobic interactions are important in the association of the protein with the bilayer, and lead to disruption of the membrane. The latter was observed by atomic force microscopy and fluorescent dye leakage from vesicles. The kinetics of alpha-synuclein fibril formation were significantly affected by the protein association and subsequent membrane disruption, and reflected the conformation of alpha-synuclein. The ability of alpha-synuclein to disrupt membranes correlated with the binding affinity of alpha-synuclein for the particular membrane composition, and to the induced helical conformation of alpha-synuclein. Protofibrillar or fibrillar alpha-synuclein caused a much more rapid destruction of the membrane than soluble monomeric alpha-synuclein, indicating that protofibrils or fibrils are likely to be significantly neurotoxic.


Xia, W. (2003). "Amyloid inhibitors and Alzheimer's disease." Curr Opin Investig Drugs 4(1): 55-9.

            Neuritic plaques composed of amyloid beta-protein (A beta) are an early and invariant neuropathological feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The current preclinical search for drugs is mainly focused on decreasing A beta production by inhibiting beta- or gamma-secretase, blocking the formation of these plaques by preventing A beta protofibril and fibril formation, and alleviating the toxic effects of neuritic plaque deposition. Increasing numbers of drugs currently used as therapies for other diseases are now entering clinical trials for AD, but the molecular targets of these drugs and their relevance to A beta toxicity needs to be thoroughly addressed. This knowledge will allow us to fully understand the A beta-related pathways in AD pathogenesis and explore novel therapeutic interventions.


Wang, Z., C. Zhou, et al. (2003). "AFM and STM study of beta-amyloid aggregation on graphite." Ultramicroscopy 97(1-4): 73-9.

            Atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) have been employed in situ and ex situ to directly study the aggregation of beta-amyloid(1-42) (Abeta42) peptide on hydrophobic graphite.From in situ AFM images, Abeta42 peptides were seen to aggregate into the sheets that preferred to three orientations with characteristic 3-fold symmetry (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 96 (1999) 3688). The sheets were formed by parallel narrow lines with a height of 0.8-1.0nm and a width of 12-14nm. The narrow lines looked like beaded chains and have a right-handed axial periodicity.The high-resolution ex situ AFM and STM images showed that some fibrils of beta-amyloid had a characteristic domain texture, indicating they were formed through the association of protofibrils and monomers. The fibril containing lateral associated filaments that exhibited right-handed twist was clearly observed in the STM image.These results provide important clues to study the detailed structure of beta-amyloid aggregates and the mechanism of the Abeta fibrils formation on hydrophobic surface.


Wang, S. S., V. Kazantzi, et al. (2003). "A Kinetic Analysis of the Mechanism of beta-Amyloid Induced G Protein Activation." J Theor Biol 221(2): 269-78.

            beta-Amyloid (A beta) is the primary protein component of senile plaques found in Alzheimer's disease. In an aggregated (amyloid fibril, protofibril, or low molecular weight oligomer) state, A beta has been consistently shown to be toxic to neurons, but the molecular mechanism of this toxicity is poorly understood. We have previously shown that A beta activates a G(i/o) protein, and that inhibition of this specific G protein activation attenuated A beta-induced cell toxicity. In the present study, we use a kinetic analysis to examine the mechanism of A beta-induced G protein activation. Using synthetic A beta(1-40) and phospholipid vesicles containing purified G(0)alpha subunits, we examined the relationship between A beta concentration, G(0)alpha subunit concentration, GTP concentration and rate of GTP hydrolysis experimentally. We found that at low concentrations of A beta (less than 10 microM), A beta increased the rate of GTP hydrolysis over the rate of hydrolysis in the absence of peptide, however, at high concentrations of A beta, significantly decreased rates of GTP hydrolysis were observed. We postulated several molecular level mechanisms for the observed rate behavior, from those mechanisms derived rate equations, and then tested the mechanisms against our experimental rate data. Based on our results, we identified a plausible mechanism for A beta-induced G protein activation which is consistent with available experimental data. This work demonstrates the utility of an engineering approach to examining steps in the mechanism of A beta-induced cell toxicity and could provide insight into our understanding of the mechanism of Alzheimer's disease.


Volles, M. J. and P. T. Lansbury, Jr. (2003). "Zeroing in on the pathogenic form of alpha-synuclein and its mechanism of neurotoxicity in Parkinson's disease." Biochemistry 42(26): 7871-8.

            Parkinson's disease (PD) is linked to mutations in the protein alpha-synuclein, which can exist in vitro in several aggregation states, including a natively unfolded monomer, a beta-sheet rich oligomer, or protofibril, and a stable amyloid fibril. This work reviews the current literature that is relevant to two linked questions: which of these species is pathogenic, and what is the mechanism of neurotoxicity? The amyloid fibril, fibrillar aggregates, Lewy bodies, and the alpha-synuclein monomer, which is normally expressed at high levels, are all unlikely to be pathogenic, for reasons discussed here. We therefore favor a toxic protofibril scenario, and propose that the pathogenic species is transiently populated during the process of fibrillization. Toxicity may arise from pore-like protofibrils that cause membrane permeabilization. An approach to testing this hypothesis is discussed.


Thomson, N. H., S. Kasas, et al. (2003). "Large fluctuations in the disassembly rate of microtubules revealed by atomic force microscopy." Ultramicroscopy 97(1-4): 239-47.

            Atomic force microscopy (AFM) in situ has been used to observe the cold disassembly dynamics of microtubules at a previously unrealised spatial resolution. Microtubules either electrostatically or covalently bound to aminosilane surfaces disassembled at room temperature under buffer solutions with no free tubulin present. This process was followed by taking sequential tapping-mode AFM images and measuring the change in the microtubule end position as a function of time, with an spatial accuracy down to +/-20nm and a temporal accuracy of +/-1s. As well as giving average disassembly rates on the order of 1-10 tubulin monomers per second, large fluctuations in the disassembly rate were revealed, indicating that the process is far from smooth and linear under these experimental conditions. The surface bound rates measured here are comparable to the rates for GMPCPP-tubulin microtubules free in solution, suggesting that inhibition of tubulin curvature through steric hindrance controls the average, relatively low disassembly rate. The large fluctuations in this rate are thought to be due to multiple pathways in the kinetics of disassembly with differing rate constants and/or stalling due to defects in the microtubule lattice. Microtubules that were covalently bound to the surface left behind the protofilaments covalently cross-linked to the aminosilane via glutaraldehyde during the disassembly process. Further work is needed to quantitatively assess the effects of surface binding on protofibril disassembly rates, reveal any differences in disassembly rates between the plus and minus ends and to enable assembly as well as disassembly to be imaged in the microscope fluid cell in real-time.


Qahwash, I., K. L. Weiland, et al. (2003). "Identification of a mutant amyloid peptide that predominantly forms neurotoxic protofibrillar aggregates." J Biol Chem 278(25): 23187-95.

            The amyloid peptide (Abeta), derived from the proteolytic cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by beta- and gamma-secretases, undergoes multistage assemblies to fibrillar depositions in the Alzheimer's brains. Abeta protofibrils were previously identified as an intermediate preceding insoluble fibrils. While characterizing a synthetic Abeta variant named EV40 that has mutations in the first two amino acids (D1E/A2V), we discerned unusual aggregation profiles of this variant. In comparison of the fibrillogenesis and cellular toxicity of EV40 to the wild-type Abeta peptide (Abeta40), we found that Abeta40 formed long fibrillar aggregates while EV40 formed only protofibrillar aggregates under the same in vitro incubation conditions. Cellular toxicity assays indicated that EV40 was slightly more toxic than Abeta40 to human neuroblastoma SHEP cells, rat primary cortical, and hippocampal neurons. Like Abeta40, the neurotoxicity of the protofibrillar EV40 could be partially attributed to apoptosis since multiple caspases such as caspase-9 were activated after SHEP cells were challenged with toxic concentrations of EV40. This suggested that apoptosis-induced neuronal loss might occur before extensive depositions of long amyloid fibrils in AD brains. This study has been the first to show that a mutated Abeta peptide formed only protofibrillar species and mutations of the amyloid peptide at the N-terminal side affect the dynamic amyloid fibrillogenesis. Thus, the identification of EV40 may lead to further understanding of the structural perturbation of Abeta to its fibrillation.


Park, J. Y. and P. T. Lansbury, Jr. (2003). "Beta-synuclein inhibits formation of alpha-synuclein protofibrils: a possible therapeutic strategy against Parkinson's disease." Biochemistry 42(13): 3696-700.

            Parkinson's disease (PD) is an age-associated and progressive movement disorder that is characterized by dopaminergic neuronal loss in the substantia nigra and, at autopsy, by fibrillar alpha-synuclein inclusions, or Lewy bodies. Despite the qualitative correlation between alpha-synuclein fibrils and disease, in vitro biophysical studies strongly suggest that prefibrillar alpha-synuclein oligomers, or protofibrils, are pathogenic. Consistent with this proposal, transgenic mice that express human alpha-synuclein develop a Parkinsonian movement disorder concurrent with nonfibrillar alpha-synuclein inclusions and the loss of dopaminergic terminii. Double-transgenic progeny of these mice that also express human beta-synuclein, a homologue of alpha-synuclein, show significant amelioration of all three phenotypes. We demonstrate here that beta- and gamma-synuclein (a third homologue that is expressed primarily in peripheral neurons) are natively unfolded in monomeric form, but structured in protofibrillar form. Beta-synuclein protofibrils do not bind to or permeabilize synthetic vesicles, unlike protofibrils comprising alpha-synuclein or gamma-synuclein. Significantly, beta-synuclein inhibits the generation of A53T alpha-synuclein protofibrils and fibrils. This finding provides a rationale for the phenotype of the double-transgenic mice and suggests a therapeutic strategy for PD.


Moen, J. L., O. V. Gorkun, et al. (2003). "Recombinant B{beta}R14H fibrinogen implies participation of N-terminus of B{beta} chain in desA fibrin polymerization." Blood.

            We synthesized BbetaR14H fibrinogen, with histidine substituted for arginine at the Bbeta thrombin-cleavage site. This substitution led to a 300-fold decrease in the rate of thrombin-catalyzed fibrinopeptide B (FpB, Bbeta1-14) release, while the rate of FpA release was normal with either thrombin or the FpA-specific enzyme, Batroxobin. Both thrombin- and Batroxobin-catalyzed polymerization of BbetaR14H fibrinogen were significantly impaired, with a longer lag time, slower rate of lateral aggregation, and decreased final turbidity. Moreover, desA monomer polymerization was similarly impaired, demonstrating that the histidine substitution itself, and not the lack of FpB cleavage, caused the abnormal polymerization of BbetaR14H fibrin. Scanning electron microscopy showed BbetaR14H fibrin fibers were thinner than normal (BbetaR14H~70 nm and normal ~100 nm; p<0.0001), as expected from the decreased final turbidity. We conclude that the N-terminus of the Bbeta chain is involved in the lateral aggregation of normal desA protofibrils, and that the Arg to His substitution disrupts these interactions in BbetaR14H fibrinogen.


Modler, A. J., K. Gast, et al. (2003). "Assembly of amyloid protofibrils via critical oligomers--a novel pathway of amyloid formation." J Mol Biol 325(1): 135-48.

            The amyloid formation of phosphoglycerate kinase (PGK) was investigated by static and dynamic light-scattering. The time-course of the scattering intensity and the hydrodynamic radius scale with initial monomer concentration in a linear fashion over a range of about 50 in concentration. This sets limits on theories for aggregation kinetics that can be used, and points towards irreversible, cascade type models. In addition, circular dichroism (CD) was used to monitor the transition between a predominantly alpha-helical spectrum to a beta-sheet enriched one. The time-course of the CD also proves to scale linearly with initial monomer concentration. Electron microscopy shows that small oligomers as well as protofibrils are present during aggregation. The found coupling between growth of intermediates and acquisition of beta-sheet structure is interpreted in terms of a generalized diffusion-collision model, where stabilization of beta-strands takes place by intermolecular interactions.


Meyer, M., K. Franke, et al. (2003). "New molecular defects in the gamma subdomain of fibrinogen D-domain in four cases of (hypo)dysfibrinogenemia: fibrinogen variants Hannover VI, Homburg VII, Stuttgart and Suhl." Thromb Haemost 89(4): 637-46.

            Four new molecular abnormalities in the gamma subdomain of the D domain elucidated in three unrelated thrombophilic patients and in one asymptomatic case of hypofibrinogenemia are reported: fibrinogen Suhl, gamma 326, Cys-->Tyr, fibrinogen Hannover VI, gamma 336 Met-->Ile, fibrinogen Stuttgart, gamma 345, Asn-->Asp and fibrinogen Homburg VII, gamma 354,Tyr-->Cys. In all cases, fibrin polymerization in plasma is impaired. In the case of fibrinogen Suhl, there was a normalization of fibrin polymerization in plasma at higher Ca(2+) concentration. The protective effect of Ca(2+) on plasmic degradation of fibrinogen was incomplete with all three variants. The fibrinogen molecules in variants Homburg VII and Suhl contain covalently bound albumin. Fibrin clot structure was abnormal in case of variant Homburg VII, with finer and more branched fibers forming a less porous clot. Experimental data indicate possible effects of the molecular abnormalities on Ca(2+)-binding, D-E interaction and lateral association of protofibrils.


Kosinski-Collins, M. S. and J. King (2003). "In vitro unfolding, refolding, and polymerization of human gammaD crystallin, a protein involved in cataract formation." Protein Sci 12(3): 480-90.

            Human gammaD crystallin (HgammaD-Crys), a major protein of the human eye lens, is a primary component of cataracts. This 174-residue primarily beta-sheet protein is made up of four Greek keys separated into two domains. Mutations in the human gene sequence encoding HgammaD-Crys are implicated in early-onset cataracts in children, and the mutant protein expressed in Escherichia coli exhibits properties that reflect the in vivo pathology. We have characterized the unfolding, refolding, and competing aggregation of human wild-type HgammaD-Crys as a function of guanidinium hydrochloride (GuHCl) concentration at neutral pH and 37 degrees C, using intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence to monitor in vitro folding. Wild-type HgammaD-Crys exhibited reversible refolding above 1.0 M GuHCl. The GuHCl unfolded protein was more fluorescent than its native counterpart despite the absence of metal or ion-tryptophan interactions. Aggregation of refolding intermediates of HgammaD-Crys was observed in both equilibrium and kinetic refolding processes. The aggregation pathway competed with productive refolding at denaturant concentrations below 1.0 M GuHCl, beyond the major conformational transition region. Atomic force microscopy of samples under aggregating conditions revealed the sequential appearance of small nuclei, thin protofibrils, and fiber bundles. The HgammaD-Crys fibrous aggregate species bound bisANS appreciably, indicating the presence of exposed hydrophobic pockets. The mechanism of HgammaD-Crys aggregation may provide clues to understanding age-onset cataract formation in vivo.


Khurana, R., C. Ionescu-Zanetti, et al. (2003). "A general model for amyloid fibril assembly based on morphological studies using atomic force microscopy." Biophys J 85(2): 1135-44.

            Based on atomic force microscopy analysis of the morphology of fibrillar species formed during fibrillation of alpha-synuclein, insulin, and the B1 domain of protein G, a previously described model for the assembly of amyloid fibrils of immunoglobulin light-chain variable domains is proposed as a general model for the assembly of protein fibrils. For all of the proteins studied, we observed two or three fibrillar species that vary in diameter. The smallest, protofilaments, have a uniform height, whereas the larger species, protofibrils and fibrils, have morphologies that are indicative of multiple protofilaments intertwining. In all cases, protofilaments intertwine to form protofibrils, and protofibrils intertwine to form fibrils. We propose that the hierarchical assembly model describes a general mechanism of assembly for all amyloid fibrils.


Hashimoto, M., E. Rockenstein, et al. (2003). "Transgenic models of alpha-synuclein pathology: past, present, and future." Ann N Y Acad Sci 991: 171-88.

            Accumulation and toxic conversion to protofibrils of alpha-synuclein has been associated with neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease (PD), Lewy body disease, multiple system atrophy, neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation type 1, and Alzheimer's disease. In recent years, modeling these disorders in transgenic (tg) mice and flies has helped improve understanding of the pathogenesis of these diseases and has established the basis for the development of new experimental treatments. Overexpression of alpha-synuclein in tg mice in a region- and cell-specific manner results in degeneration of selective circuitries accompanied by motor deficits and inclusion formation similar to what is found in PD and related disorders. Furthermore, studies in singly and doubly tg mice have shown that toxic conversion and accumulation can be accelerated by alpha-synuclein mutations associated with familial parkinsonism, by amyloid beta peptide 1-42 (Abeta 1-42), and by oxidative stress. In contrast, molecular chaperones such as Hsp70 and close homologues such as alpha-synuclein have been shown to suppress toxicity. Similar studies are underway to evaluate the effects of other modifying genes that might play a role in alpha-synuclein ubiquitination. Among them considerable interest has been placed on the role of molecules associated with familial parkinsonism (Parkin, UCHL-1). Furthermore, studying the targeted overexpression of alpha-synuclein and other modifier genes in the nigrostriatal and limbic system by using regulatable promoters, lentiviral vectors, and siRNA will help improve understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in selective neuronal vulnerability, and it will aid the development of new treatments.


Goldstein, L. E., J. A. Muffat, et al. (2003). "Cytosolic beta-amyloid deposition and supranuclear cataracts in lenses from people with Alzheimer's disease." Lancet 361(9365): 1258-65.

            BACKGROUND: Pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease include cerebral beta-amyloid (Abeta) deposition, amyloid accumulation, and neuritic plaque formation. We aimed to investigate the hypothesis that molecular pathological findings associated with Alzheimer's disease overlap in the lens and brain. METHODS: We obtained postmortem specimens of eyes and brain from nine individuals with Alzheimer's disease and eight controls without the disorder, and samples of primary aqueous humour from three people without the disorder who were undergoing cataract surgery. Dissected lenses were analysed by slit-lamp stereophotomicroscopy, western blot, tryptic-digest/mass spectrometry electrospray ionisation, and anti-Abeta surface-enhanced laser desorption ionisation (SELDI) mass spectrometry, immunohistochemistry, and immunogold electron microscopy. Aqueous humour was analysed by anti-Abeta SELDI mass spectrometry. We did binding and aggregation studies to investigate Abeta-lens protein interactions. FINDINGS: We identified Abeta1-40 and Abeta1-42 in lenses from people with and without Alzheimer's disease at concentrations comparable with brain, and Abeta1-40 in primary aqueous humour at concentrations comparable with cerebrospinal fluid. Abeta accumulated in lenses from individuals with Alzheimer's disease as electron-dense deposits located exclusively in the cytoplasm of supranuclear/deep cortical lens fibre cells (n=4). We consistently saw equatorial supranuclear cataracts in lenses from people with Alzheimer's disease (n=9) but not in controls (n=8). These supranuclear cataracts colocalised with enhanced Abeta immunoreactivity and birefringent Congo Red staining. Synthetic Abeta bound alphaB-crystallin, an abundant cytosolic lens protein. Abeta promoted lens protein aggregation that showed protofibrils, birefringent Congo Red staining, and Abeta/alphaB-crystallin coimmunoreactivity. INTERPRETATION: Abeta is present in the cytosol of lens fibre cells of people with Alzheimer's disease. Lens Abeta might promote regionally-specific lens protein aggregation, extracerebral amyloid formation, and supranuclear cataracts.


Fung, S. Y., C. Keyes, et al. (2003). "Concentration effect on the aggregation of a self-assembling oligopeptide." Biophys J 85(1): 537-48.

            Concentration is a key parameter in controlling the aggregation of self-assembling oligopeptides. By investigating the concentration effects, an aggregation mechanism of EAK16-II is proposed. Depending on the critical aggregation concentration (CAC) of EAK16-II, the oligopeptide aggregates into protofibrils through seeding and/or a nucleation process. Protofibrils then associate with each other to form fibrils. The CAC was found to be approximately 0.1 mg/ml by surface tension measurements. The nanostructures of aggregates were imaged and analyzed by atomic force microscopy. Globular and fibrillar aggregates were observed, and their dimensions were further quantified. To ensure that the aggregates were formed in bulk solution, light scattering (LS) measurements were conducted to monitor the fibril formation with time. The LS profile showed two different rates of aggregation depending on whether the peptide concentration was above or below the CAC. At high concentrations, the LS intensity increased strongly at early times. At low concentrations, the LS intensity increased only slightly. Our study provides information about the nature of the oligopeptide self-assembly, which is important to the understanding of the fibrillogenesis occurring in conformational diseases and to many biomedical engineering applications.


Dev, K. K., K. Hofele, et al. (2003). "Part II: alpha-synuclein and its molecular pathophysiological role in neurodegenerative disease." Neuropharmacology 45(1): 14-44.

            Alpha-synuclein (alphaSN) brain pathology is a conspicuous feature of several neurodegenerative diseases. These include prevalent conditions such as Parkinson's disease (PD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and the Lewy body variant of Alzheimer's disease (LBVAD), as well as rarer conditions including multiple systems atrophy (MSA), and neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation type-1 (NBIA-1). Common in these diseases, some referred to as alpha-synucleinopathies, are microscopic proteinaceous insoluble inclusions in neurons and glia that are composed largely of fibrillar aggregates of alphaSN. This molecular form of alphaSN contrasts sharply with normal alphaSN, which is an abundant soluble presynaptic protein in brain neurons. alphaSN is a highly conserved protein in vertebrates and only seven of its 140 amino acids differ between human and mouse. Flies lack an alphaSN gene. Implicated in neurotoxicity are two alphaSN mutants (A53T and A30P) that cause extremely rare familial forms of PD, alphaSN fibrils and protofibrils, soluble protein complexes of alphaSN with 14-3-3 protein, and phosphorylated, nitrosylated, and ubiquitylated alphaSN species. Unlike rare forms of fPD caused by mutations in alphaSN, disease mechanisms in most alpha-synucleinopathies implicate wildtype alphaSN and seem to converge around oxidative damage and impairments in protein catabolism. It is not known whether these causalities involve alphaSN from the beginning, but defects in the handling of this protein seem to contribute to disease progression because accumulation of toxic alphaSN forms damage neurons. Here, we summarize the main structural features of alphaSN and its functions, and discuss the molecular alphaSN species implicated in human disease and transgenic animal models of alpha-synucleinopathy in fly and rodents.


Cooper, A. V., K. F. Standeven, et al. (2003). "Fibrinogen gamma-chain splice variant gamma' alters fibrin formation and structure." Blood 102(2): 535-40.

            Fibrinogen gammaA/gamma' results from alternative splicing of mRNA. This variant, which constitutes approximately 8% to 15% of plasma fibrinogen, contains FXIII and thrombin binding sites. Our objective was to investigate whether gammaA/gamma' differs in fibrin formation and structure from the more common variant gammaA/gammaA. Both variants were separated and purified by anion-exchange chromatography. Fibrin formation and clot structure of the variants and unfractionated fibrinogen were investigated by turbidity and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Thrombin cleavage of fibrinopeptides was analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Turbidity analysis showed significantly altered polymerization rates and overall fiber thickness in gammaA/gamma' clots compared with gammaA/gammaA and unfractionated fibrinogen. This finding was consistent with a range of thrombin concentrations. HPLC demonstrated reduced rates of fibrinopeptide B (FpB) release from gammaA/gamma' fibrinogen compared with gammaA/gammaA. Delayed FpB release was associated with delayed lateral aggregation of protofibrils and significant differences were found on SEM, with gammaA/gamma' clots consisting of smaller diameter fibers and increased numbers of branch points compared with both gammaA/gammaA and unfractionated fibrinogen. These results demonstrate that the gammaA/gamma' splice variant of fibrinogen directly alters fibrin formation and structure, which may help to explain the increased thrombotic risk associated with this variant.


Caughey, B. and P. T. Lansbury, Jr. (2003). "Protofibrils, Pores, Fibrils, and Neurodegeneration: Separating the Responsible Protein Aggregates from the Innocent Bystanders." Annu Rev Neurosci.

            Many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (prion diseases), are characterized at autopsy by neuronal loss and protein aggregates that are typically fibrillar. A convergence of evidence strongly suggests that protein aggregation is neurotoxic and not a product of cell death. However, the identity of the neurotoxic aggregate and the mechanism by which it disables and eventually kills a neuron are unknown. Both biophysical studies aimed at elucidating the precise mechanism of in vitro aggregation and animal modeling studies support the emerging notion that an ordered prefibrillar oligomer, or protofibril, may be responsible for cell death and that the fibrillar form that is typically observed at autopsy may actually be neuroprotective. A subpopulation of protofibrils may function as pathogenic amyloid pores. An analogous mechanism may explain the neurotoxicity of the prion protein; recent data demonstrates that the disease-associated, infectious form of the prion protein differs from the neurotoxic species. This review focuses on recent experimental studies aimed at identification and characterization of the neurotoxic protein aggregates. Expected online publication date for the Annual Review of Neuroscience Volume 26 is June 16, 2003. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pub_dates.asp for revised estimates.


Caracciolo, G., M. De Spirito, et al. (2003). "Protofibrils within fibrin fibres are packed together in a regular array." Thromb Haemost 89(4): 632-6.

            The inner structure of fibrin fibres grown from fibrinogen solution activated by human alpha-thrombin was investigated by means of an Energy Dispersive X-ray Diffraction technique. The experiments show evidence for the well-characterized 22.5 nm repeat distance, which indicates the high order of protofibril arrangement in the longitudinal direction of fibres. The diffraction pattern also manifested a further pronounced peak at 18.1 nm (and its second order reflection at 18.1/ radical 2) demonstrating the existence in fibrin of a high degree of lateral order. The reported results directly confirm, on unperturbed wet samples, that protofibrils closely associate giving rise to a crystalline axial and equatorial packing according to the conclusions of the multibundle model.


Bitan, G., M. D. Kirkitadze, et al. (2003). "Amyloid beta -protein (Abeta) assembly: Abeta 40 and Abeta 42 oligomerize through distinct pathways." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 100(1): 330-5.

            Amyloid beta-protein (Abeta) is linked to neuronal injury and death in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Of particular relevance for elucidating the role of Abeta in AD is new evidence that oligomeric forms of Abeta are potent neurotoxins that play a major role in neurodegeneration and the strong association of the 42-residue form of Abeta, Abeta42, with the disease. Detailed knowledge of the structure and assembly dynamics of Abeta thus is important for the development of properly targeted AD therapeutics. Recently, we have shown that Abeta oligomers can be cross-linked efficiently, and their relative abundances quantified, by using the technique of photo-induced cross-linking of unmodified proteins (PICUP). Here, PICUP, size-exclusion chromatography, dynamic light scattering, circular dichroism spectroscopy, and electron microscopy have been combined to elucidate fundamental features of the early assembly of Abeta40 and Abeta42. Carefully prepared aggregate-free Abeta40 existed as monomers, dimers, trimers, and tetramers, in rapid equilibrium. In contrast, Abeta42 preferentially formed pentamerhexamer units (paranuclei) that assembled further to form beaded superstructures similar to early protofibrils. Addition of Ile-41 to Abeta40 was sufficient to induce formation of paranuclei, but the presence of Ala-42 was required for their further association. These data demonstrate that Abeta42 assembly involves formation of several distinct transient structures that gradually rearrange into protofibrils. The strong etiologic association of Abeta42 with AD may thus be a result of assemblies formed at the earliest stages of peptide oligomerization.


Asanuma, M., I. Miyazaki, et al. (2003). "Dopamine- or L-DOPA-induced neurotoxicity: the role of dopamine quinone formation and tyrosinase in a model of Parkinson's disease." Neurotox Res 5(3): 165-76.

            Dopamine (DA)- or L-dihydroxyphenylalanine-(L-DOPA-) induced neurotoxicity is thought to be involved not only in adverse reactions induced by long-term L-DOPA therapy but also in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. Numerous in vitro and in vivo studies concerning DA- or L-DOPA-induced neurotoxicity have been reported in recent decades. The reactive oxygen or nitrogen species generated in the enzymatical oxidation or auto-oxidation of an excess amount of DA induce neuronal damage and/or apoptotic or non-apoptotic cell death; the DA-induced damage is prevented by various intrinsic and extrinsic antioxidants. DA and its metabolites containing two hydroxyl residues exert cytotoxicity in dopaminergic neuronal cells mainly due to the generation of highly reactive DA and DOPA quinones which are dopaminergic neuron-specific cytotoxic molecules. DA and DOPA quinones may irreversibly alter protein function through the formation of 5-cysteinyl-catechols on the proteins. For example, the formation of DA quinone-alpha-synuclein consequently increases cytotoxic protofibrils and the covalent modification of tyrosine hydroxylase by DA quinones. The melanin-synthetic enzyme tyrosinase in the brain may rapidly oxidize excess amounts of cytosolic DA and L-DOPA, thereby preventing slowly progressive cell damage by auto-oxidation of DA, thus maintainng DA levels. Since tyrosinase also possesses catecholamine-synthesizing activity in the absence of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the double-edged synthesizing and oxidizing functions of tyrosinase in the dopaminergic system suggest its potential for application in the synthesis of DA, instead of TH in the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons, and in the normalization of abnormal DA turnover in the long-term L-DOPA-treated Parkinson's disease patients.


Antony, T., W. Hoyer, et al. (2003). "Cellular polyamines promote the aggregation of alpha-synuclein." J Biol Chem 278(5): 3235-40.

            The cellular polyamines putrescine, spermidine, and spermine accelerate the aggregation and fibrillization of alpha-synuclein, the major protein component of Lewy bodies associated with Parkinson's disease. Circular dichroism and fluorometric thioflavin T kinetic studies showed a transition of alpha-synuclein from unaggregated to highly aggregated states, characterized by lag and transition phases. In the presence of polyamines, both the lag and transition times were significantly shorter. All three polyamines accelerated the aggregation and fibrillization of alpha-synuclein to a degree that increased with the total charge, length, and concentration of the polyamine. Electron and scanning force microscopy of the reaction products after the lag phase revealed the presence of aggregated particles (protofibrils) and small fibrils. At the end of the transition phase, alpha-synuclein formed long fibrils in all cases, although some morphological variations were apparent. In the presence of polyamines, fibrils formed large networks leading ultimately to condensed aggregates. In the absence of polyamines, fibrils were mostly isolated. We conclude that the polyamines at physiological concentrations can modulate the propensity of alpha-synuclein to form fibrils and may hence play a role in the formation of cytosolic alpha-synuclein aggregates.


Yu, J., L. Bakhos, et al. (2002). "Per-6-substituted beta-cyclodextrin libraries inhibit formation of beta-amyloid-peptide (A beta)-derived, soluble oligomers." J Mol Neurosci 19(1-2): 51-5.

            Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in older individuals with compelling evidence favoring neuron dysfunction and death triggered by assembled forms of A beta(1-42). While large neurotoxic amyloid fibrils have been known for years, recent studies show that soluble protofibril and A beta(1-42)-derived diffusible ligands (ADDLs) may also be involved in neurotoxicity. In the present work, dot-blot immunoassays discriminating ADDLs from monomers were used to screen libraries of per-substituted beta-cyclodextrin (beta-CD) derivatives for inhibition of ADDLs formation. Libraries were prepared from per-6-iodo-beta-CD by treatment with various amine nucleophiles. The most active library tested (containing >2000 derivatives) was derived from imidazole, N, N-dimethylethylenediamine and furfurylamine, which at 10 microM total library, inhibited ADDLs formation (10 nM A beta(1-42)) over a period of 4 hours. The latter was confirmed by a western blot assay showing decreased amounts of the initially formed A beta(1-42) tetramer. These preliminary experiments suggest that derivatized forms of beta-CD can interfere with the oligomerization process of A beta(1-42).


Watts, N. R., L. N. Jones, et al. (2002). "Cryo-electron microscopy of trichocyte (hard alpha-keratin) intermediate filaments reveals a low-density core." J Struct Biol 137(1-2): 109-18.

            Trichocyte intermediate filaments (IF) are the principal components of epidermal appendages such as hair and nail. Based on studies by a variety of techniques, it has been inferred that trichocyte IF are structurally similar to other kinds of IF. However, some basic structural attributes have yet to be established: in particular, it has remained unclear whether IF are hollow. We have examined trichocyte IF isolated from rat vibrissae and human hair follicles by electron microscopy. Scanning transmission electron microscopy of freeze-dried specimens yielded mass-per-unit-length values of approximately 32 kDa/nm, with the human preparations also containing filaments at half this density, corresponding to two rather than four protofibrils. Radial density profiles calculated from cryo-electron micrographs of vitrified specimens preserved in a near-native state revealed a low-density region of approximately 3 nm diameter around the filament axis. A minor species of filament with the same internal structure was surface-decorated with material arranged with a helical pitch length of 9.3 nm. These filaments appear to represent IF coated with associated proteins-perhaps, "high-sulfur" proteins-readied for incorporation into the filament-matrix biocomposite of the mature hair.


Volles, M. J. and P. T. Lansbury, Jr. (2002). "Vesicle permeabilization by protofibrillar alpha-synuclein is sensitive to Parkinson's disease-linked mutations and occurs by a pore-like mechanism." Biochemistry 41(14): 4595-602.

            Two mutations in the protein alpha-synuclein (A30P and A53T) are linked to an autosomal dominant form of Parkinson's disease. Both mutations accelerate the formation of prefibrillar oligomers (protofibrils) in vitro, but the mechanism by which they promote toxicity is unknown. Protofibrils of wild-type alpha-synuclein bind and permeabilize acidic phospholipid vesicles. This study examines the relative membrane permeabilizing activities of the wild type, mutant, and mouse variants of protofibrillar alpha-synuclein and the mechanism of membrane permeabilization. Protofibrillar A30P, A53T, and mouse variants were each found to have greater permeabilizing activities per mole than the wild-type protein. The leakage of vesicular contents induced by protofibrillar alpha-synuclein exhibits a strong preference for low-molecular mass molecules, suggesting a pore-like mechanism for permeabilization. Under conditions in which the vesicular membrane is less stable (lack of calcium as a phospholipid counterion), protofibril permeabilization is less size-selective and monomeric alpha-synuclein can permeabilize via a detergent-like mechanism. We conclude that the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease may involve membrane permeabilization by protofibrillar alpha-synuclein, the extent of which will be strongly dependent on the in vivo conditions.


Standeven, K. F., R. A. Ariens, et al. (2002). "The effect of dimethylbiguanide on thrombin activity, FXIII activation, fibrin polymerization, and fibrin clot formation." Diabetes 51(1): 189-97.

            The antihyperglycemic drug dimethylbiguanide (DMB, also known as metformin) reduces the risk of cardiovascular complications in type 2 diabetes, although the mechanism(s) involved are unclear. DMB reduces glycosylation-related protein cross-linking, a process similar to fibrin cross-linking catalyzed by activated factor XIII (FXIII). To investigate whether the cardioprotective effect of DMB could be related to effects on clot stabilization, we studied the effects of DMB on FXIII, thrombin activity, and cleavage of fibrin(ogen). Activity of purified and plasma FXIII was inhibited by DMB. Analysis by mass spectrometry and FXIII-coupled magnetic particles excluded binding of DMB to FXIII. Thrombin-induced cleavage of the activation peptide from FXIII was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner, as was fibrinopeptide cleavage from fibrinogen. Ancrod-induced cleavage of fibrinopeptide A was not affected. DMB prolonged clotting time of normal plasma. Fiber thickness and pore size of fibrin clots, measured by permeation experiments and visualized by scanning electron microscopy, decreased significantly with DMB. No interactions between DMB and the active site of thrombin were found. Turbidity experiments demonstrated that DMB changed polymerization and lateral aggregation of protofibrils. These results suggest that DMB interferes with FXIII activation and fibrin polymerization, but not only by binding to thrombin on a different location than the active site. In patients on DMB therapy, FXIII antigen and activity levels in vivo were reduced over a 12-week period. These findings indicate that part of the cardioprotective effect of DMB in patients with type 2 diabetes may be attributed to alterations in fibrin structure/function.


Shtilerman, M. D., T. T. Ding, et al. (2002). "Molecular crowding accelerates fibrillization of alpha-synuclein: could an increase in the cytoplasmic protein concentration induce Parkinson's disease?" Biochemistry 41(12): 3855-60.

            Parkinson's disease (PD) is one of many neurodegenerative diseases that are characterized by amyloid fibril formation. Alpha-synuclein is a primary component of the fibrillar neuronal inclusions, known as Lewy bodies, that are diagnostic of PD. In addition, the alpha-synuclein gene is linked to familial PD. Fibril formation by alpha-synuclein proceeds via discrete beta-sheet-rich oligomers, or protofibrils, that are consumed as fibrils grow. Both FPD mutations accelerate formation of protofibrils, suggesting that these intermediates, rather than the fibril product, trigger neuronal loss. In idiopathic PD, other factors may be responsible for accelerating protofibril formation by wild-type alpha-synuclein. One possible factor could be molecular crowding in the neuronal cytoplasm. We demonstrate here that crowding using inert polymers significantly reduced the lag time for protofibril formation and the conversion of the protofibril to the fibril, but did not affect the morphology of either species. Physiologically realistic changes in the degree of in vitro crowding have significant kinetic consequences. Thus, nonspecific changes in the total cytoplasmic protein concentration, induced by cell volume changes and/or altered protein degradation, could promote formation of and stabilize the alpha-synuclein protofibril.


Rosenblum, W. I. (2002). "Structure and location of amyloid beta peptide chains and arrays in Alzheimer's disease: new findings require reevaluation of the amyloid hypothesis and of tests of the hypothesis." Neurobiol Aging 23(2): 225-30.

            New in situ high resolution electronmicroscopic examination of amyloid fibrils in situ indicate that in Alzheimer's disease these fibrils are not simply long chains of self aggregated amyloid beta peptide. The amyloid beta is not only associated with P protein and glycans, as was well known from previous immunohistologic studies, but is arranged in the form of short chains at right angles to a P protein backbone with the glycans wrapped around that backbone. These findings suggest that the hypothesis causally relating simple, fibrillar amyloid beta to Alzheimer's disease must be reevaluated since such simple fibrils may be absent, or not the major form of the amyloid beta in the brain. Other data shows that shorter multimers, so-called protofibrils, or dimers of amyloid beta or molecules cleaved from it can be highly toxic. Some of these may be in the soluble amyloid beta fraction. Shorter multimers or dimers of amyloid beta, either extra or intracellular, may be the real links between amyloid beta production and Alzheimer's disease. Toxicity studies employing fibrillar amyloid beta may not be relevant, even if they produce lesions, because they do not employ amyloid beta in the form in which it actually exists in the Alzheimer brain. Studies of treatments designed to remove fibrils or to prevent their formation may be ineffective or suboptimal in effectiveness because they do not reduce the relevant amyloid burden and/or fail to alter the arrangement of shorter multimers of amyloid beta around its P-protein and glycan core.


Rainey, J. K., C. K. Wen, et al. (2002). "Hierarchical assembly and the onset of banding in fibrous long spacing collagen revealed by atomic force microscopy." Matrix Biol 21(8): 647-60.

            The mechanism of formation of fibrillar collagen with a banding periodicity much greater than the 67 nm of native collagen, i.e. the so-called fibrous long spacing (FLS) collagen, has been speculated upon, but has not been previously studied experimentally from a detailed structural perspective. In vitro, such fibrils, with banding periodicity of approximately 270 nm, may be produced by dialysis of an acidic solution of type I collagen and alpha(1)-acid glycoprotein against deionized water. FLS collagen assembly was investigated by visualization of assembly intermediates that were formed during the course of dialysis using atomic force microscopy. Below pH 4, thin, curly nonbanded fibrils were formed. When the dialysis solution reached approximately pH 4, thin, filamentous structures that showed protrusions spaced at approximately 270 nm were seen. As the pH increased, these protofibrils appeared to associate loosely into larger fibrils with clear approximately 270 nm banding which increased in diameter and compactness, such that by approximately pH 4.6, mature FLS collagen fibrils begin to be observed with increasing frequency. These results suggest that there are aspects of a stepwise process in the formation of FLS collagen, and that the banding pattern arises quite early and very specifically in this process. It is proposed that typical 4D-period staggered microfibril subunits assemble laterally with minimal stagger between adjacent fibrils. alpha(1)-Acid glycoprotein presumably promotes this otherwise abnormal lateral assembly over native-type self-assembly. Cocoon-like fibrils, which are hundreds of nanometers in diameter and 10-20 microm in length, were found to coexist with mature FLS fibrils.


Poirier, M. A., H. Li, et al. (2002). "Huntingtin spheroids and protofibrils as precursors in polyglutamine fibrilization." J Biol Chem 277(43): 41032-7.

            The pathology of Huntington's disease is characterized by neuronal degeneration and inclusions containing N-terminal fragments of mutant huntingtin (htt). To study htt aggregation, we examined purified htt fragments in vitro, finding globular and protofibrillar intermediates participating in the genesis of mature fibrils. These intermediates were high in beta-structure. Furthermore, Congo Red, a dye that stains amyloid fibrils, prevented the assembly of mutant htt into mature fibrils, but not the formation of protofibrils. Other proteins capable of forming ordered aggregates, such as amyloid beta and alpha-synuclein, form similar intermediates, suggesting that the mechanisms of mutant htt aggregation and possibly htt toxicity may overlap with other neurodegenerative disorders.


Perutz, M. F., J. T. Finch, et al. (2002). "Amyloid fibers are water-filled nanotubes." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 99(8): 5591-5.

            A study of papers on amyloid fibers suggested to us that cylindrical beta-sheets are the only structures consistent with some of the x-ray and electron microscope data. We then found that our own 7-year-old and hitherto enigmatic x-ray diagram of poly-L-glutamine fits a cylindrical sheet of 31 A diameter made of beta-strands with 20 residues per helical turn. Successive turns are linked by hydrogen bonds between both the main chain and side chain amides, and side chains point alternately into and out of the cylinder. Fibers of the exon-1 peptide of huntingtin and of the glutamine- and asparagine-rich region of the yeast prion Sup35 give the same underlying x-ray diagrams, which show that they have the same structure. Electron micrographs show that the 100-A-thick fibers of the Sup35 peptide are ropes made of three protofibrils a little over 30 A thick. They have a measured mass of 1,450 Da/A, compared with 1,426 Da/A for a calculated mass of three protofibrils each with 20 residues per helical turn wound around each other with a helical pitch of 510 A. Published x-ray diagrams and electron micrographs show that fibers of synuclein, the protein that forms the aggregates of Parkinson disease, consist of single cylindrical beta-sheets. Fibers of Alzheimer A beta fragments and variants are probably made of either two or three concentric cylindrical beta-sheets. Our structure of poly-L-glutamine fibers may explain why, in all but one of the neurodegenerative diseases resulting from extension of glutamine repeats, disease occurs when the number of repeats exceeds 37-40. A single helical turn with 20 residues would be unstable, because there is nothing to hold it in place, but two turns with 40 residues are stabilized by the hydrogen bonds between their amides and can act as nuclei for further helical growth. The A beta peptide of Alzheimer's disease contains 42 residues, the best number for nucleating further growth. All these structures are very stable; the best hope for therapies lies in preventing their growth.


Nichols, M. R., M. A. Moss, et al. (2002). "Growth of beta-amyloid(1-40) protofibrils by monomer elongation and lateral association. Characterization of distinct products by light scattering and atomic force microscopy." Biochemistry 41(19): 6115-27.

            Amyloid plaques in brain tissue are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. Primary components of these plaques are 40- and 42-residue peptides, denoted A beta(1-40) and A beta(1-42), that are derived by proteolysis of cellular amyloid precursor protein. Synthetic A beta(1-40) and A beta(1-42) form amyloid fibrils in vitro that share many features with the amyloid in plaques. Soluble intermediates in A beta fibrillogenesis, termed protofibrils, have been identified previously, and here we describe the in vitro formation and isolation of A beta(1-40) protofibrils by size exclusion chromatography. In some experiments, the A beta(1-40) was radiomethylated to better quantify various A beta species. Mechanistic studies clarified two separate modes of protofibril growth, elongation by monomer deposition and protofibril-protofibril association, that could be resolved by varying the NaCl concentration. Small isolated protofibrils in dilute Tris-HCl buffers were directed along the elongation pathway by addition of A beta(1-40) monomer or along the association pathway by addition of NaCl. Multi-angle light scattering analysis revealed that protofibrils with initial molecular masses M(w) of (7-30) x 10(3) kDa grew to M(w) values of up to 250 x 10(3) kDa by these two growth processes. However, the mass per unit length of the associated protofibrils was about 2-3 times that of the elongated protofibrils. Rate constants for further elongation by monomer deposition with the elongated, associated, and initial protofibril pools were identical when equal number concentrations of original protofibrils were compared, indicating that the original number of protofibril ends had not been altered by the elongation or association processes. Atomic force microscopy revealed heterogeneous initial protofibrils that became more rodlike following the elongation reaction. Our data indicate that protofibril elongation in the absence of NaCl results from monomer deposition only at the ends of protofibrils and proceeds without an increase in protofibril diameter. In contrast, protofibril association occurs in the absence of monomer when NaCl is introduced, but this association involves lateral interactions that result in a relatively disordered fibril structure.


Mullin, J. L., S. O. Brennan, et al. (2002). "Fibrinogen Hillsborough: a novel gammaGly309Asp dysfibrinogen with impaired clotting." Blood 99(10): 3597-601.

            We present a novel gamma-chain dysfibrinogen that was discovered in a 32-year-old asymptomatic man admitted to the hospital after a car accident. He presented with a low fibrinogen concentration, 0.5 mg/mL, and a prolonged thrombin clotting time, 58 seconds. Analysis of purified fibrinogen by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis revealed a gamma-chain variant with an apparently higher molecular weight. Isoelectric focusing (IEF) demonstrated an anodal shift in the banding pattern of the chains and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESIMS) showed a 27-Da increase in the average mass of the unresolved variant and normal gamma chains. DNA sequence analysis showed a heterozygous mutation of GGC (Gly)-->GAC (Asp) at codon 309 of the gamma chain gene. This Gly--> Asp substitution was consistent with the charge change shown by IEF as well as the mass change identified by ESIMS. Functional analysis revealed that thrombin-catalyzed polymerization occurred with a longer lag time, lower rate of lateral aggregation, and similar final turbidity compared to normal and that factor XIII cross-linking was normal. The polymerization results suggest that residue gamma309 is necessary for proper alignment of fibrinogen molecules, specifically in protofibril formation and D:D interactions. gammaGly309 is highly conserved and x-ray structures support the conclusion that the lack of a side chain at this position helps facilitate the close contact between abutting gammaD domains of condensing fibrin monomers during polymerization.


Morgan, C., M. P. Bugueno, et al. (2002). "Laminin affects polymerization, depolymerization and neurotoxicity of Abeta peptide." Peptides 23(7): 1229-40.

            Amyloid deposition in Alzheimer fibrils forms neurotoxic senile plaques in a process that may be modulated by associated proteins. In this work we demonstrate the ability of laminin-1 and laminin-2 to inhibit fibril formation and toxicity on cultured rat hippocampal neurons. We confirm that the laminin-1-derived peptide YFQRYLI inhibits efficiently both fibril formation and neurotoxicity and show that the IKVAV peptide inhibits amyloid neurotoxicity despite its slight inhibition of fibril formation. On other hand, laminin-1 induces disaggregation of preformed fibrils in vitro, characterized as a progressive disassembly of fibrils into protofibrils and further clearance of these latter species, leading to a continual inhibition of amyloid neurotoxicity.


Matsuda, M. and T. Sugo (2002). "Structure and function of human fibrinogen inferred from dysfibrinogens." Int J Hematol 76 Suppl 1: 352-60.

            Fibrinogen is a 340-kDa plasma protein that is composed of two identical molecular halves, each consisting of three non-identical subunit polypeptides designated as A alpha, B beta- and gamma-chains held together by multiple disulfide bonds. Fibrinogen has a trinodular structure, i.e., one central E domain comprizing the amino-terminal regions of paired individual three polypeptides, and two identical outer D domains. These three nodules are linked by two coiled-coil regions [1,2]. After activation with thrombin, a tripeptide segment consisting of Gly-Pro-Arg is exposed at the amino-terminus of each alpha-chain residing at the center of the E domain and combines with its complementary binding site, called the 'a' site, residing in the carboxyl-terminal region of the gamma-chain in the outer D domain of another molecule. By crystallographic analysis [3], the alpha-amino group of alpha Gly-1 is shown to be juxtaposed between the carboxyl group of gamma Asp-364 and the carboxyamide of Gln-329 in the 'a' site. Half molecule-staggered, double-stranded fibrin protofibrils are thus formed [4,5]. Upon abutment of two adjacent D domains on the same strand, D-D self association takes place involving Arg-275, Tyr-280 and Ser-300 of the gamma-chain on the surface of the abutting two D domains [3]. Thereafter, carboxyl-terminal regions of the fibrin a-chains are thought to be untethered and interact with those of other protofibrils leading to the formation of thick fibrin bundles and interwoven networks after appropriate branching [6-9]. Although many enigmas still remain regarding the mechanisms of these molecular interactions, fibrin assembly proceeds in a highly ordered fashion. In my talk, I would like to discuss these molecular interactions of fibrinogen and fibrin based on the up-date data provided by analyses of normal as well as hereditary dysfibrinogens, particularly in the latter by introducing representative molecules at each step of fibrin clot formation.


Lugovskoy, E. V., E. N. Zolotareva, et al. (2002). "Polymerization sites in the D-domain of human fibrin(ogen)." Biochemistry (Mosc) 67(4): 446-50.

            The present work deals with localization of previously unknown polymerization sites of the fibrin DD-fragment. D-dimer we obtained has a pronounced inhibitory effect on fibrin polymerization (IC50 = 0.06 microM). The inhibitory effect of the DD-fragment disappeared after reduction and carboxymethylation. However, polypeptide chains betaDD (Bbeta134-461) and gammagammaDD (gamma63-411)2 of the DD-fragment, isolated by preparative electrophoresis, displayed their inhibitory activity. For instance, the rates of fibrin protofibril lateral association were decreased twice in the presence of betaDD and gammagammaDD chains at their molar ratios to fibrin of 0.40 and 0.15, respectively. The IC50 values for betaDD and gammagammaDD were 0.24 and 0.10 microM, respectively. Highly specific inhibition of protofibril lateral association suggests that the protofibril lateral association sites are located in Bbeta134-461 and gamma63-411 regions of the fibrin D-domain. Our data confirm those reported by Doolittle et al. regarding the gamma-chain and a hypothesis about beta-chain of fibrin D-domain (Yang, Z., Mochalkin, I., and Doolittle, R. F. (2000) Biochemistry, 97, 14156-14161).


Lounes, K. C., L. Ping, et al. (2002). "Analysis of engineered fibrinogen variants suggests that an additional site mediates platelet aggregation and that "B-b" interactions have a role in protofibril formation." Biochemistry 41(16): 5291-9.

            The C-terminal domain of the fibrinogen gamma-chain includes multiple functional sites that have been defined in high-resolution structures and biochemical assays. Calcium binds to this domain through the side chains of gammaD318 and gammaD320 and the backbone carbonyls of gammaF322 and gammaG324. We have examined variant fibrinogens with alanine at position gamma318 and/or gamma320 and found that calcium binding, fibrin polymerization, and fibrinogen-mediated platelet aggregation, but not FXIIIa-catalyzed cross-linking, were abnormal. When measured by turbidity, thrombin-catalyzed polymerization was severely reduced, and batroxobin-catalyzed polymerization was completely obliterated. Moreover, thrombin-catalyzed polymerization was abolished by the peptide GHRP, which binds to the polymerization site in the beta-chain but does not inhibit polymerization of normal fibrinogen. ADP-induced platelet aggregation was also severely impaired. In contrast, as measured by SDS-PAGE, FXIIIa introduced cross-links between gamma-chains for all three variants, as expected if the gamma-chain C-terminal sites were normal. In addition, binding of the monoclonal antibody 4A5, which recognizes the C-terminal residues, was not different from normal. These data suggest two specific conclusions: (1) a site in the gamma-module other than the C-terminus is critical for platelet aggregation and (2) "B-b" interactions have a role in protofibril formation.


Lee, H. J. and S. J. Lee (2002). "Characterization of cytoplasmic alpha-synuclein aggregates. Fibril formation is tightly linked to the inclusion-forming process in cells." J Biol Chem 277(50): 48976-83.

            The alpha-synuclein fibrillation process has been associated with the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we have characterized the cytoplasmic alpha-synuclein aggregates using a fractionation procedure with which different aggregate species can be separated. Overexpression of alpha-synuclein in cells produce two distinct types of aggregates: large juxtanuclear inclusion bodies and small punctate aggregates scattered throughout the cytoplasm. Biochemical fractionation results in an inclusion-enriched fraction and two small aggregate fractions. Electron microscopy and thioflavin S reactivity of the fractions show that the juxtanuclear inclusion bodies are filled with amyloid-like alpha-synuclein fibrils, whereas both the small aggregate fractions contain non-fibrillar spherical aggregates with distinct size distributions. These aggregates appear sequentially, with the smallest population appearing the earliest and the fibrillar inclusions the latest. Based on the structural and kinetic properties, we suggest that the small spherical aggregates are the cellular equivalents of the protofibrils. The proteins that co-exist in the Lewy bodies, such as proteasome subunit, ubiquitin, and hsp70 chaperone, are present in the fibrillar inclusions but absent in the protofibrils, suggesting that these proteins may not be directly involved in the early aggregation stage. As predicted in the aggresome model, disruption of microtubules with nocodazole reduced the number of inclusions and increased the size of the protofibrils. Despite the increased size, the protofibrils remained non-fibrillar, suggesting that the deposition of the protofibrils in the juxtanuclear region is important in fibril formation. This study provides evidence that the cellular fibrillation also involves non-fibrillar intermediate species, and the microtubule-dependent inclusion-forming process is required for the protofibril-to-fibril conversion in cells.


Lashuel, H. A., B. M. Petre, et al. (2002). "Alpha-synuclein, especially the Parkinson's disease-associated mutants, forms pore-like annular and tubular protofibrils." J Mol Biol 322(5): 1089-102.

            Two mutations in the alpha-synuclein gene (A30P and A53T) have been linked to autosomal dominant early-onset Parkinson's disease (PD). Both mutations promote the formation of transient protofibrils (prefibrillar oligomers), suggesting that protofibrils are linked to cytotoxicity. In this work, the effect of these mutations on the structure of alpha-synuclein oligomers was investigated using electron microscopy and digital image processing. The PD-linked mutations (A30P and A53T) were observed to affect both the morphology and the size distribution of alpha-synuclein protofibrils (measured by analytical ultracentrifugation and scanning transmission electron microscopy). The A30P variant was observed to promote the formation of annular, pore-like protofibrils, whereas A53T promotes formation of annular and tubular protofibrillar structures. Wild-type alpha-synuclein also formed annular protofibrils, but only after extended incubation. The formation of pore-like oligomeric structures may explain the membrane permeabilization activity of alpha-synuclein protofibrils. These structures may contribute to the pathogenesis of PD.


Lashuel, H. A., D. Hartley, et al. (2002). "Neurodegenerative disease: amyloid pores from pathogenic mutations." Nature 418(6895): 291.

            Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases are associated with the formation in the brain of amyloid fibrils from beta-amyloid and alpha-synuclein proteins, respectively. It is likely that oligomeric fibrillization intermediates (protofibrils), rather than the fibrils themselves, are pathogenic, but the mechanism by which they cause neuronal death remains a mystery. We show here that mutant amyloid proteins associated with familial Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases form morphologically indistinguishable annular protofibrils that resemble a class of pore-forming bacterial toxins, suggesting that inappropriate membrane permeabilization might be the cause of cell dysfunction and even cell death in amyloid diseases.


Klein, W. L. (2002). "Abeta toxicity in Alzheimer's disease: globular oligomers (ADDLs) as new vaccine and drug targets." Neurochem Int 41(5): 345-52.

            Over the past several years, experiments with synthetic amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta) and animal models have strongly suggested that pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) involves soluble assemblies of Abeta peptides (Trends Neurosci. 24 (2001) 219). These soluble neurotoxins (known as ADDLs and protofibrils) seem likely to account for the imperfect correlation between insoluble fibrillar amyloid deposits and AD progression. Recent experiments have detected the presence of ADDLs in AD-afflicted brain tissue and in transgenic-mice models of AD. The presence of high affinity ADDL binding proteins in hippocampus and frontal cortex but not cerebellum parallels the regional specificity of AD pathology and suggests involvement of a toxin receptor-mediated mechanism. The properties of ADDLs and their presence in AD-afflicted brain are consistent with their putative role even in the earliest stages of AD, including forms of mild cognitive impairment.


Klein, W. L. (2002). "ADDLs & protofibrils--the missing links?" Neurobiol Aging 23(2): 231-5.


Kita, R., A. Takahashi, et al. (2002). "Formation of fibrin gel in fibrinogen-thrombin system: static and dynamic light scattering study." Biomacromolecules 3(5): 1013-20.

            The dynamics of thrombin-induced fibrin gel formation was investigated by means of static and dynamic light scattering. The decay time distribution function, obtained by the dynamic light scattering, clearly revealed a stepwise gelation process: the formation of fibrin and protofibril from fibrinogen followed by the lateral aggregation of protofibrils to form fibrin fibers and the formation of a three-dimensional network consisting of fibers. This conversion process was correlated with the angular dependence of the scattered light intensity (static light scattering). The correlation function of dynamic light scattering was analyzed in terms of sol-gel transition and gel structure. The correlation function showed a stretched exponential type behavior before the sol to gel transition point, and it showed a power law behavior at the gelation point.


Hou, L., I. Kang, et al. (2002). "Methionine 35 oxidation reduces fibril assembly of the amyloid abeta-(1-42) peptide of Alzheimer's disease." J Biol Chem 277(43): 40173-6.

            The major component of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease (AD) is Abeta, a small peptide that has high propensity to assemble as aggregated beta-sheet structures. Using three well established techniques for studying amyloid structure, namely circular dichroism, thioflavin-T fluorescence, and atomic force microscopy, we demonstrate that oxidation of the Met-35 side chain to a methionine sulfoxide (Met-35(ox)) significantly hinders the rate of fibril formation for the 42-residue Abeta-(1-42) at physiological pH. Met-35(ox) also alters the characteristic Abeta fibril morphology and prevents formation of the protofibril, which is a key intermediate in beta-amyloidosis and the associated neurotoxicity. The implications of these results for the biological function and role of Abeta with oxidative stress in AD are discussed.


Garriques, L. N., S. Frokjaer, et al. (2002). "The effect of mutations on the structure of insulin fibrils studied by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and electron microscopy." J Pharm Sci 91(12): 2473-80.

            Fibril formation (aggregation) of human and bovine insulin and six human insulin mutants in hydrochloric acid were investigated by visual inspection, Thioflavin T fluorescence spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. The fibrillation tendencies of the wild-type insulins and the insulin mutants were (in order of decreasing fibrillation tendencies): Glu(B1) + Glu(B27) = bovine < human < des-(B1,B2)-insulin < Ser(B2) + Asp(B10) < Glu(A13) + Glu(B10) = Gln(B17) < Asp(B10). Transmission electron micrographs showed that the protofibrils of the mutants were similar to those of wild-type insulins and had a diameter of 5-10 nm and lengths varying from 50 nm to several microns. The fibrils of human insulin mutants exhibited varying degrees of lateral aggregation. The Asp(B10) mutant and human insulin had greater tendency to form laterally aggregated fibrils arranged in parallel bundles, whereas fibrils of the other mutants and bovine insulin were mainly arranged in helical filaments. FTIR spectroscopy showed that the native secondary structure of the wild-type insulins and the human insulin mutants in hydrochloric acid were identical, whereas the secondary structure of the fibrils formed by heating at 50 degrees C depended on the amino acid substitution. FTIR spectra of fibrils of the human insulin mutants exhibited different beta-sheet bands at 1,620-1,640 cm(-1), indicating that the beta-sheet interactions in the fibrils depended on variations in the primary structure of insulin.


Doig, A. J., E. Hughes, et al. (2002). "Inhibition of toxicity and protofibril formation in the amyloid-beta peptide beta(25-35) using N-methylated derivatives." Biochem Soc Trans 30(4): 537-42.

            Beta (25-35) is a fragment of beta-amyloid that retains its wild-type properties. N-methylated derivatives of beta(25-35) can block hydrogen bonding on the outer edge of the assembling amyloid, so preventing the aggregation and inhibiting the toxicity of the wild-type peptide. The effects are assayed by Congo Red and thioflavin T binding, electron microscopy and an MTT [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide] toxicity assay. N-methyl-Gly-25 has similar properties to the wild- type, while five other methylation sites have varying effects on prefolded fibrils and fibril assembly. In particular, N-methyl-Gly-33 is able to completely prevent fibril assembly and reduces the toxicity of prefolded amyloid. With N-methyl-Leu-34 the fibril morphology is altered and toxicity reduced. A preliminary study of beta(25-35) structure in aqueous solution was made by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). The protofibrillar aggregates are best described as a disc of radius 140 A and height 53 A (1 A = 0.1 nm), though the possibility of polydisperse aggregates cannot be ruled out. No aggregates form in the presence of N-methyl-Gly-33. We suggest that the use of N-methylated derivatives of amyloidogenic peptides and proteins could provide a general solution to the problem of amyloid deposition and toxicity and that SANS is an important technique for the direct observation of protofibril formation and destruction in solution.


Ding, T. T., S. J. Lee, et al. (2002). "Annular alpha-synuclein protofibrils are produced when spherical protofibrils are incubated in solution or bound to brain-derived membranes." Biochemistry 41(32): 10209-17.

            The Parkinson's disease substantia nigra is characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons and the presence of cytoplasmic fibrillar Lewy bodies in surviving neurons. The major fibrillar protein of Lewy bodies is alpha-synuclein. Two point mutations in the alpha-synuclein gene are associated with autosomal-dominant Parkinson's disease (FPD). Studies of the in vitro fibrillization behavior of the mutant proteins suggest that fibril precursors, or alpha-synuclein protofibrils, rather than the fibrils, may be pathogenic. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) revealed two distinct forms of protofibrillar alpha-synuclein: rapidly formed spherical protofibrils and annular protofibrils, which were produced on prolonged incubation of spheres. The spherical protofibrils bound to brain-derived membrane fractions much more tightly than did monomeric or fibrillar alpha-synuclein, and membrane-associated annular protofibrils were observed. The structural features of alpha-synuclein annular protofibrils are reminiscent of bacterial pore-forming toxins and are consistent with their porelike activity in vitro. Thus, abnormal membrane permeabilization may be a pathogenic mechanism in PD.


Dahlgren, K. N., A. M. Manelli, et al. (2002). "Oligomeric and fibrillar species of amyloid-beta peptides differentially affect neuronal viability." J Biol Chem 277(35): 32046-53.

            Genetic evidence predicts a causative role for amyloid-beta (A beta) in Alzheimer's disease. Recent debate has focused on whether fibrils (amyloid) or soluble oligomers of A beta are the active species that contribute to neurodegeneration and dementia. We developed two aggregation protocols for the consistent production of stable oligomeric or fibrillar preparations of A beta-(1-42). Here we report that oligomers inhibit neuronal viability 10-fold more than fibrils and approximately 40-fold more than unaggregated peptide, with oligomeric A beta-(1-42)-induced inhibition significant at 10 nm. Under A beta-(1-42) oligomer- and fibril-forming conditions, A beta-(1-40) remains predominantly as unassembled monomer and had significantly less effect on neuronal viability than preparations of A beta-(1-42). We applied the aggregation protocols developed for wild type A beta-(1-42) to A beta-(1-42) with the Dutch (E22Q) or Arctic (E22G) mutations. Oligomeric preparations of the mutations exhibited extensive protofibril and fibril formation, respectively, but were not consistently different from wild type A beta-(1-42) in terms of inhibition of neuronal viability. However, fibrillar preparations of the mutants appeared larger and induced significantly more inhibition of neuronal viability than wild type A beta-(1-42) fibril preparations. These data demonstrate that protocols developed to produce oligomeric and fibrillar A beta-(1-42) are useful in distinguishing the structural and functional differences between A beta-(1-42) and A beta-(1-40) and genetic mutations of A beta-(1-42).


Cuccia, L. A., E. Ruiz, et al. (2002). "Helical self-organization and hierarchical self-assembly of an oligoheterocyclic pyridine-pyridazine strand into extended supramolecular fibers." Chemistry 8(15): 3448-57.

            The synthesis and characterization of an alternating pyridine-pyridazine strand comprising thirteen heterocycles are described. Spontaneous folding into a helical secondary structure is based on a general molecular self-organization process enforced by the conformational information encoded within the primary structure of the molecular strand itself. Conformational control based on heterocyclic "helicity codons" illustrates a strategy for designing folding properties into synthetic oligomers (foldamers). Strong intermolecular interactions of the highly ordered lock-washer subunits of compound 3 results in hierarchical supramolecular self-assembly into protofibrils and fibrils. Compound 3 also forms mechanically stable two-dimensional Langmuir-Blodgett and cast thin films.


Behl, C. and B. Moosmann (2002). "Oxidative nerve cell death in Alzheimer's disease and stroke: antioxidants as neuroprotective compounds." Biol Chem 383(3-4): 521-36.

            Many neurodegenerative disorders and syndromes are associated with an excessive generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress. The pathways to nerve cell death induced by diverse potential neurotoxins such as peptides, excitatory amino acids, cytokines or synthetic drugs commonly share oxidative downstream processes, which can cause either an acute oxidative destruction or activate secondary events leading to apoptosis. The pathophysiological role of ROS has been intensively studied in in vitro and in vivo models of chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and of syndromes associated with rapid nerve cell loss as occuring in stroke. In AD, oxidative neuronal cell dysfunction and cell death caused by protofibrils and aggregates of the AD-associated amyloid beta protein (Abeta) may causally contribute to pathogenesis and progression. ROS and reactive nitrogen species also take part in the complex cascade of events and the detrimental effects occuring during ischemia and reperfusion in stroke. Direct antioxidants such as chain-breaking free radical scavengers can prevent oxidative nerve cell death. Although there is ample experimental evidence demonstrating neuroprotective activities of direct antioxidants in vitro, the clinical evidence for antioxidant compounds to act as protective drugs is relatively scarce. Here, the neuroprotective potential of antioxidant phenolic structures including alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) and 17beta-estradiol (estrogen) in vitro is summarized. In addition, the antioxidant and cytoprotective activities of lipophilic tyrosine- and tryptophan-containing structures are discussed. Finally, an outlook is given on the neuroprotective potential of aromatic amines and imines, which may comprise novel lead structures for antioxidant drug design.


Barboro, P., C. D'Arrigo, et al. (2002). "Unraveling the organization of the internal nuclear matrix: RNA-dependent anchoring of NuMA to a lamin scaffold." Exp Cell Res 279(2): 202-18.

            Using quantitative immunoelectron microscopy we show here that when the nuclear matrix is isolated from rat hepatocytes in the presence of an inhibitor of RNase activity both lamins and the nuclear mitotic apparatus protein (NuMA) preferentially localize within the electron-dense domains of the internal nuclear matrix (INM). After RNA digestion NuMA undergoes a sharp depletion, while labeling by an antibody against lamins A and C within the electron-transparent regions increases, suggesting that a subset of lamin epitopes is masked by the interaction with RNA. We were able to explain this result by visualizing for the first time a thin web of lamin protofibrils which connects the electron-dense regions. Confirmation of these changes has been obtained by immunoblot analysis and confocal microscopy. As RNA digestion results both in the release of NuMA and in the collapse of the INM, we propose that a fraction of nuclear RNA brings about the association of NuMA islands with a lamin scaffold and that this interaction is required to maintain the latter in a state of high molecular dispersion.


Zurdo, J., J. I. Guijarro, et al. (2001). "Dependence on solution conditions of aggregation and amyloid formation by an SH3 domain." J Mol Biol 311(2): 325-40.

            The formation of amyloid fibrils by the SH3 domain of the alpha-subunit of bovine phosphatidylinositol-3'-kinase (PI3-SH3) has been investigated under carefully controlled solution conditions. NMR and CD characterisation of the denatured states from which fibrils form at low pH show that their properties can be correlated with the nature of the resulting aggregates defined by EM and FTIR spectroscopy. Compact partially folded states, favoured by the addition of anions, are prone to precipitate rapidly into amorphous species, whilst well-defined fibrillar structures are formed slowly from more expanded denatured states. Kinetic data obtained by a variety of techniques show a clear lag phase in the formation of amyloid fibrils. NMR spectroscopy shows no evidence for a significant population of small oligomers in solution during or after this lag phase. EM and FTIR indicate the presence of amorphous aggregates (protofibrils) rich in beta-structure after the lag phase but prior to the development of well-defined amyloid fibrils. These observations strongly suggest a nucleation and growth mechanism for the formation of the ordered aggregates. The morphologies of the fibrillar structures were found to be highly sensitive to the pH at which the protein solutions are incubated. This can be attributed to the effect of small perturbations in the electrostatic interactions that stabilise the contacts between the protofilaments forming the amyloid fibrils. Moreover, different hydrogen bonding patterns related to the various aggregate morphologies can be distinguished by FTIR analysis.


Xiong, L. W., L. D. Raymond, et al. (2001). "Conformational change, aggregation and fibril formation induced by detergent treatments of cellular prion protein." J Neurochem 79(3): 669-78.

            The conversion of protease-sensitive prion protein (PrP-sen) to a high beta-sheet, protease-resistant and often fibrillar form (PrP-res) is a central event in transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases. This conversion can be induced by PrP-res itself in cell-free conversion reactions. The detergent sodium N-lauroyl sarkosinate (sarkosyl) is a detergent that is widely used in PrP-res purifications and is known to stimulate the PrP-res-induced conversion reaction. Here we report effects of sarkosyl and other detergents on recombinant hamster PrP-sen purified from mammalian cells under oxidizing conditions that maintain the single native disulfide bond. Low concentrations of sarkosyl (0.001-0.1%) induced aggregation of PrP-sen molecules, increased light scattering, altered fluorescence excitation and emission spectra, and enhanced the proportion of beta-sheet secondary structure according to circular dichroism and infrared spectroscopies. An enhancement of beta-sheet content was also seen with 0.001% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) but not several other types of detergents. Electron microscopy revealed that sarkosyl induced the formation of both amorphous and fibrillar aggregates. The fibrils appeared to be constructed from spherical bead-like protofibrils. Neither TSE infectivity nor the characteristic partial proteinase K resistance of PrP-res was detected in the sarkosyl-induced PrP aggregates. We conclude that certain anionic detergents can disrupt the conformation of PrP-sen and induce high beta-sheet aggregates that are distinct from scrapie-associated PrP-res in terms of protease-resistance, infrared spectrum and infectivity. These results reinforce the idea that not all high-beta aggregates of PrP are equivalent to the pathologic form, PrP-res.


Volles, M. J., S. J. Lee, et al. (2001). "Vesicle permeabilization by protofibrillar alpha-synuclein: implications for the pathogenesis and treatment of Parkinson's disease." Biochemistry 40(26): 7812-9.

            Fibrillar alpha-synuclein is a component of the Lewy body, the characteristic neuronal inclusion of the Parkinson's disease (PD) brain. Both alpha-synuclein mutations linked to autosomal dominant early-onset forms of PD promote the in vitro conversion of the natively unfolded protein into ordered prefibrillar oligomers, suggesting that these protofibrils, rather than the fibril itself, may induce cell death. We report here that protofibrils differ markedly from fibrils with respect to their interactions with synthetic membranes. Protofibrillar alpha-synuclein, in contrast to the monomeric and the fibrillar forms, binds synthetic vesicles very tightly via a beta-sheet-rich structure and transiently permeabilizes these vesicles. The destruction of vesicular membranes by protofibrillar alpha-synuclein was directly observed by atomic force microscopy. The possibility that the toxicity of alpha-synuclein fibrillization may derive from an oligomeric intermediate, rather than the fibril, has implications regarding the design of therapeutics for PD.


Sugo, T., O. Sekine, et al. (2001). "Mode of perturbation of Asahi fibrin assembly by the extra oligosaccharides." Ann N Y Acad Sci 936: 223-5.

            Steric hindrance by the backbone of extra oligosaccharides at gamma-Asn 308 may cause the repulsive force to widen the junction at the D:D interface, and thus, interfere with the longitudinal elongation and lateral association of protofibrils.


Sinha, N., C. J. Tsai, et al. (2001). "A proposed structural model for amyloid fibril elongation: domain swapping forms an interdigitating beta-structure polymer." Protein Eng 14(2): 93-103.

            We propose a model illustrating how proteins, which differ in their overall sequences and structures, can form the propagating, twisted beta-sheet conformations, characteristic of amyloids. Some cases of amyloid formation can be explained through a "domain swapping" event, where the swapped segment is either a beta-hairpin or an unstable conformation which can partially unfold and assume a beta-hairpin structure. As in domain swapping, here the swapped beta-hairpin is at the edge of the structure, has few (if any) salt bridges and hydrogen bonds connecting it to the remainder of the structure and variable extents of buried non-polar surface areas. Additionally, in both cases the swapped piece constitutes a transient "building block" of the structure, with a high population time. Whereas in domain swapping the swapped fragment has been shown to be an alpha-helix, loop, strand or an entire domain, but so far not a beta-hairpin, despite the large number of cases in which it was already detected, here swapping may involve such a structural motif. We show how the swapping of beta-hairpins would form an interdigitated, twisted beta-sheet conformation, explaining the remarkable high stability of the protofibril in vitro. Such a swapping mechanism is attractive as it involves a universal mechanism in proteins, critical for their function, namely hinge-bending motions. Our proposal is consistent with structural superpositioning of mutational variants. While the overall r.m.s.d.s of the wild-type and mutants are small, the proposed hinge-bending region consistently shows larger deviations. These larger deviations illustrate that this region is more prone to respond to the mutational changes, regardless of their location in the sequence or in the structure. Nevertheless, above all, we stress that this proposition is hypothetical, since it is based on assumptions lacking definitive experimental support.


Shcherbak, I. G., T. F. Subbotina, et al. (2001). "[Turbidimetric analysis of fibrin polymerization in the plasma]." Vopr Med Khim 47(1): 80-90.

            The turbidimetrical assay of thrombin-induced plasma coagulation provides a possibility to estimate both stages of fibrinogen-fibrin conversion. The initial one, which proceeds without any change of turbidity, reflects the process of protofibril formation, and the second stage of lateral aggregation, is characterized by the rise of turbidity. The influence of heparin, alga (Laminaria digitata) aqueons extracts, and collagenase on the indices of the turbidity-time curve has been studied. It was established that the alga extracts possessed the powerful heparin-like anticoagulant activity. The both agents influenced the first stage of the turbidity-time curve, suppressing protofibril formation, which reflects the thrombin inhibition. Nevertheless, they differed in their mode of dose-dependence. While the time of protofibril formation was direct proportional to the alga extract concentration, it was rising more intensively with heparin dose elevation. Plasma pre incubation with alga extract or heparin did not influence their action. Treatment with plasma collagenase changed only the second stage of the coagulation curve. It inhibited the process of protofibril lateral aggregation in the direct proportional manner. It must be due to fibrin digestion by the enzyme. We propose that fibrin cleavage by collagenase occurred out of the thrombin action sites, because the velocity of protofibril accumulation stayed unchanged. Our data illustrate the usefulness of the turbidimetrical analysis in the studies of the agents' action mechanisms on blood coagulation, in conditions close to physiological ones.


Scheibel, T., A. S. Kowal, et al. (2001). "Bidirectional amyloid fiber growth for a yeast prion determinant." Curr Biol 11(5): 366-9.

            The polymerization of many amyloids is a two-stage process initiated by the formation of a seeding nucleus or protofibril. Soluble protein then assembles with these nuclei to form amyloid fibers. Whether fiber growth is bidirectional or unidirectional has been determined for two amyloids. In these cases, bidirectional growth was established by time lapse atomic-force microscopy. Here, we investigated the growth of amyloid fibers formed by NM, the prion-determining region of the yeast protein Sup35p. The conformational changes in NM that lead to amyloid formation in vitro serve as a model for the self-perpetuating conformational changes in Sup35p that allow this protein to serve as an epigenetic element of inheritance in vivo. To assess the directionality of fiber growth, we genetically engineered a mutant of NM so that it contained an accessible cysteine residue that was easily labeled after fiber formation. The mutant protein assembled in vitro with kinetics indistinguishable from those of the wild-type protein and propagated the heritable genetic trait [PSI(+)] with the same fidelity. In reactions nucleated with prelabeled fibers, unlabeled protein assembled at both ends. Thus, NM fiber growth is bidirectional.


Rymer, D. L. and T. A. Good (2001). "The role of G protein activation in the toxicity of amyloidogenic Abeta-(1-40), Abeta-(25-35), and bovine calcitonin." J Biol Chem 276(4): 2523-30.

            More than 16 different proteins have been identified as amyloid in clinical diseases; among these, beta-amyloid (Abeta) of Alzheimer's disease is the best characterized. In the present study, we performed experiments with Abeta and calcitonin, another amyloid-forming peptide, to examine the role of G protein activation in amyloid toxicity. We demonstrated that the peptides, when prepared under conditions that promoted beta-sheet and amyloid fibril (or protofibril) formation, increased high affinity GTPase activity, but the nonamyloidogenic peptides had no discernible effects on GTP hydrolysis. These increases in GTPase activity were correlated to toxicity. In addition, G protein inhibitors significantly reduced the toxic effects of the amyloidogenic Abeta and calcitonin peptides. Our results further indicated that the amyloidogenic peptides significantly increased GTPase activity of purified Galpha(o) and Galpha(i) subunits and that the effect was not receptor-mediated. Collectively, these results imply that the amyloidogenic structure, regardless of the actual peptide or protein sequence, may be sufficient to cause toxicity and that toxicity is mediated, at least partially, through G protein activation. Our abilities to manipulate G protein activity may lead to novel treatments for Alzheimer's disease and the other amyloidoses.


Quintas, A., D. C. Vaz, et al. (2001). "Tetramer dissociation and monomer partial unfolding precedes protofibril formation in amyloidogenic transthyretin variants." J Biol Chem 276(29): 27207-13.

            Amyloid fibril formation and deposition is a common feature of a wide range of fatal diseases including spongiform encephalopathies, Alzheimer's disease, and familial amyloidotic polyneuropathies (FAP), among many others. In certain forms of FAP, the amyloid fibrils are mostly constituted by variants of transthyretin (TTR), a homotetrameric plasma protein. Recently, we showed that transthyretin in solution may undergo dissociation to a non-native monomer, even under close to physiological conditions of temperature, pH, ionic strength, and protein concentration. We also showed that this non-native monomer is a compact structure, does not behave as a molten globule, and may lead to the formation of partially unfolded monomeric species and high molecular mass soluble aggregates (Quintas, A., Saraiva, M. J. M., and Brito, R. M. M. (1999) J. Biol. Chem. 274, 32943-32949). Here, based on aging experiments of tetrameric TTR and chemically induced protein unfolding experiments of the non-native monomeric forms, we show that tetramer dissociation and partial unfolding of the monomer precedes amyloid fibril formation. We also show that TTR variants with the least thermodynamically stable non-native monomer produce the largest amount of partially unfolded monomeric species and soluble aggregates under conditions that are close to physiological. Additionally, the soluble aggregates formed by the amyloidogenic TTR variants showed morphological and thioflavin-T fluorescence properties characteristic of amyloid. These results allowed us to conclude that amyloid fibril formation by some TTR variants might be triggered by tetramer dissociation to a compact non-native monomer with low conformational stability, which originates partially unfolded monomeric species with a high tendency for ordered aggregation into amyloid fibrils. Thus, partial unfolding and conformational fluctuations of molecular species with marginal thermodynamic stability may play a crucial role on amyloid formation in vivo.


Parry, D. A., L. N. Marekov, et al. (2001). "Subfilamentous protofibril structures in fibrous proteins: cross-linking evidence for protofibrils in intermediate filaments." J Biol Chem 276(42): 39253-8.

            The packing of the constituent molecules in some fibrous proteins such as collagen and intermediate filaments (IF) is thought to consist of several hierarchical levels, the penultimate of which is the organization of subfilamentous units termed protofibrils. However, to date only indirect evidence, such as electron microscopic images of unraveling fibers or the existence of mass quanta, has been adduced in support of the existence of protofibrils. We have reexamined this issue in IF. Cross-links have been induced in trichocyte keratin, cytokeratin, and vimentin IF proteins. Using improved experimental conditions, several additional and reproducible cross-links have been characterized. Notably, many of these link between columns of molecular strands four apart on two-dimensional surface lattices. These data provide robust support for the concept of an 8-chain (4-molecule) protofibril entity in IF. Further, their positions correspond to the axial displacements predicted for protofibrils in the different types of IF. Also, the data are consistent with intact IF containing four protofibrils. In addition, the positions of these novel cross-links suggest that there are multiple possible groupings of four molecular strands to form a protofibril, suggesting a promiscuous association of molecules to form a protofibril. This may underlie the reason that organized elongated protofibrils cannot be visualized by conventional microscopic methods.


Nilsberth, C., A. Westlind-Danielsson, et al. (2001). "The 'Arctic' APP mutation (E693G) causes Alzheimer's disease by enhanced Abeta protofibril formation." Nat Neurosci 4(9): 887-93.

            Several pathogenic Alzheimer's disease (AD) mutations have been described, all of which cause increased amyloid beta-protein (Abeta) levels. Here we present studies of a pathogenic amyloid precursor protein (APP) mutation, located within the Abeta sequence at codon 693 (E693G), that causes AD in a Swedish family. Carriers of this 'Arctic' mutation showed decreased Abeta42 and Abeta40 levels in plasma. Additionally, low levels of Abeta42 were detected in conditioned media from cells transfected with APPE693G. Fibrillization studies demonstrated no difference in fibrillization rate, but Abeta with the Arctic mutation formed protofibrils at a much higher rate and in larger quantities than wild-type (wt) Abeta. The finding of increased protofibril formation and decreased Abeta plasma levels in the Arctic AD may reflect an alternative pathogenic mechanism for AD involving rapid Abeta protofibril formation leading to accelerated buildup of insoluble Abeta intra- and/or extracellularly.


Matsuda, M. and T. Sugo (2001). "Hereditary disorders of fibrinogen." Ann N Y Acad Sci 936: 65-88.

            Fibrinogen, a 340-kDa plasma protein, is composed of two identical molecular halves each consisting of three non-identical A alpha-, B beta- and gamma-chain subunits held together by multiple disulfide bonds. Fibrinogen is shown to have a trinodular structure; that is, one central nodule, the E domain, and two identical outer nodules, the D-domains, linked by two coiled-coil regions. After activation with thrombin, a pair of binding sites comprising Gly-Pro-Arg is exposed in the central nodule and combines with its complementary binding site a in the outer nodule of another molecules. By using crystallographic analysis, the alpha-amino group of alpha Gly-1 is shown to be juxtaposed between gamma Asp-364 and gamma Asp-330, and guanidino group of alpha Arg-3 between the carboxyl group of gamma Asp-364 and gamma Gln-329 in the a site. Half molecule-staggered, double-stranded protofibrils are thus formed. Upon abutment of two adjacent D domains on the same strand, D-D self association takes place involving Arg-275, Tyr-280, and Ser-300 of the gamma-chain on the surface of the abutting two D domains. Thereafter, carboxyl-terminal regions of the alpha-chains are untethered and interact with those of other protofibrils leading to the formation of thick fibrin bundles and networks. Although many enigmas still remain concerning the exact mechanisms of these molecular interactions, fibrin assembly proceeds in a highly ordered fashion. In this review, these molecular interactions of fibrinogen and fibrin are discussed on the basis of the data provided by hereditary dysfibrinogens on introducing representative molecules at each step of fibrin clot formation.


Marchi, R., S. Loyau, et al. (2001). "Structure and properties of clots from fibrinogen Bicetre II (gamma 308 Asn-->Lys). Increased permeability due to larger pores, thicker fibers, and decreased rigidity." Ann N Y Acad Sci 936: 125-8.

            Fibrinogen Bicetre II is a dysfibrinogenemia in which there is a substitution of Lys for Asn at gamma 308. We have studied the polymerization of this abnormal fibrinogen by measurement of turbidity and have characterized clot structure by scanning electron microscopy, permeation, and viscoelastic measurements. The results of these studies demonstrate that this amino acid substitution has substantial effects on the structure and properties of the clot, resulting in clots made up of thick fibers and large pores with greatly reduced stiffness and increased slippage of protofibrils.


Madrazo, J., J. H. Brown, et al. (2001). "Crystal structure of the central region of bovine fibrinogen (E5 fragment) at 1.4-A resolution." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 98(21): 11967-72.

            The high-resolution crystal structure of the N-terminal central region of bovine fibrinogen (a 35-kDa E(5) fragment) reveals a remarkable dimeric design. The two halves of the molecule bond together at the center in an extensive molecular "handshake" by using both disulfide linkages and noncovalent contacts. On one face of the fragment, the Aalpha and Bbeta chains from the two monomers form a funnel-shaped domain with an unusual hydrophobic cavity; here, on each of the two outer sides there appears to be a binding site for thrombin. On the opposite face, the N-terminal gamma chains fold into a separate domain. Despite the chemical identity of the two halves of fibrinogen, an unusual pair of adjacent disulfide bonds locally constrain the two gamma chains to adopt different conformations. The striking asymmetry of this domain may promote the known supercoiling of the protofibrils in fibrin. This information on the detailed topology of the E(5) fragment permits the construction of a more detailed model than previously possible for the critical trimolecular junction of the protofibril in fibrin.


Lounes, K. C., J. B. Lefkowitz, et al. (2001). "The impaired polymerization of fibrinogen Longmont (Bbeta166Arg-->Cys) is not improved by removal of disulfide-linked dimers from a mixture of dimers and cysteine-linked monomers." Blood 98(3): 661-6.

            This study identified a new substitution in the Bbeta chain of an abnormal fibrinogen, denoted Longmont, where the residue Arg166 was changed to Cys. The variant was discovered in a young woman with an episode of severe hemorrhage at childbirth and a subsequent mild bleeding disorder. The neo-Cys residues were always found to be disulfide-bridged to either an isolated Cys amino acid or to the corresponding Cys residue of another abnormal fibrinogen molecule, forming dimers. Removing the dimeric molecules using gel filtration did not correct the fibrin polymerization defect. Fibrinogen Longmont had normal fibrinopeptide A and B release and a functional polymerization site "a." Thus, the sites "A" and "a" can interact to form protofibrils, as evidenced by dynamic light-scattering measurements. These protofibrils, however, were unable to associate in the normal manner of lateral aggregation, leading to abnormal clot formation, as shown by an impaired increase in turbidity. Therefore, it is concluded that the substitution of Arg166-->Cys-Cys alters fibrinogen Longmont polymerization by disrupting interactions that are critical for normal lateral association of protofibrils. (Blood. 2001;98:661-666)


Lounes, K. C., J. B. Lefkowitz, et al. (2001). "Fibrinogen Longmont. A heterozygous abnormal fibrinogen with B beta Arg-166 to Cys substitution associated with defective fibrin polymerization." Ann N Y Acad Sci 936: 129-32.

            B beta Arg166 to Cys substitution was identified in an abnormal fibrinogen named fibrinogen Longmont. The proband, a young woman, and her mother were heterozygous; both experienced episodes of severe hemorrhage at childbirth. The neo-Cys residues were found to be disulfide-bridged to either an isolated Cys amino acid or to the corresponding Cys residue of another abnormal fibrinogen molecule, forming dimers. Thrombin and batroxobin induced fibrin polymerization were impaired, despite normal release of fibrinopeptides A and B. Moreover, the polymerization defect was not corrected by removing the dimeric species or adding calcium. Fibrinogen Longmont had normal polymerization site a, as evidenced by normal GPRP-peptide binding. Thus, the sites A and a can interact to form protofibrils, as evidenced by dynamic light scattering measurements. These protofibrils, however, do not associate laterally in a normal manner, leading to an abnormal clot formation.


Lambert, M. P., K. L. Viola, et al. (2001). "Vaccination with soluble Abeta oligomers generates toxicity-neutralizing antibodies." J Neurochem 79(3): 595-605.

            In recent studies of transgenic models of Alzheimer's disease (AD), it has been reported that antibodies to aged beta amyloid peptide 1-42 (Abeta(1-42)) solutions (mixtures of Abeta monomers, oligomers and amyloid fibrils) cause conspicuous reduction of amyloid plaques and neurological improvement. In some cases, however, neurological improvement has been independent of obvious plaque reduction, and it has been suggested that immunization might neutralize soluble, non-fibrillar forms of Abeta. It is now known that Abeta toxicity resides not only in fibrils, but also in soluble protofibrils and oligomers. The current study has investigated the immune response to low doses of Abeta(1-42) oligomers and the characteristics of the antibodies they induce. Rabbits that were injected with Abeta(1-42) solutions containing only monomers and oligomers produced antibodies that preferentially bound to assembled forms of Abeta in immunoblots and in physiological solutions. The antibodies have proven useful for assays that can detect inhibitors of oligomer formation, for immunofluorescence localization of cell-attached oligomers to receptor-like puncta, and for immunoblots that show the presence of SDS-stable oligomers in Alzheimer's brain tissue. The antibodies, moreover, were found to neutralize the toxicity of soluble oligomers in cell culture. Results support the hypothesis that immunizations of transgenic mice derive therapeutic benefit from the immuno-neutralization of soluble Abeta-derived toxins. Analogous immuno-neutralization of oligomers in humans may be a key in AD vaccines.


Klein, W. L., G. A. Krafft, et al. (2001). "Targeting small Abeta oligomers: the solution to an Alzheimer's disease conundrum?" Trends Neurosci 24(4): 219-24.

            Amyloid beta (Abeta) is a small self-aggregating peptide produced at low levels by normal brain metabolism. In Alzheimer's disease (AD), self-aggregation of Abeta becomes rampant, manifested most strikingly as the amyloid fibrils of senile plaques. Because fibrils can kill neurons in culture, it has been argued that fibrils initiate the neurodegenerative cascades of AD. An emerging and different view, however, is that fibrils are not the only toxic form of Abeta, and perhaps not the neurotoxin that is most relevant to AD: small oligomers and protofibrils also have potent neurological activity. Immuno-neutralization of soluble Abeta-derived toxins might be the key to optimizing AD vaccines that are now on the horizon.


Kad, N. M., N. H. Thomson, et al. (2001). "Beta(2)-microglobulin and its deamidated variant, N17D form amyloid fibrils with a range of morphologies in vitro." J Mol Biol 313(3): 559-71.

            Amyloid fibrils formed by incubation of recombinant wild-type human beta(2)-microglobulin (beta(2)M) ab initio in vitro at low pH and high ionic strength are short and highly curved. By contrast, fibrils extracted from patients suffering from haemodialysis-related amyloidosis and those formed by seeding growth of the wild-type protein in vitro with fibrils ex vivo are longer and straighter than those previously produced ab initio in vitro. Here we explore the effect of growth conditions on morphology of beta(2)M fibrils formed ab initio in vitro from the wild-type protein, as well as a variant form of beta(2)M in which Asn17 is deamidated to Asp (N17D). We show that deamidation results in significant destabilisation of beta(2)M at neutral pH. Despite this, acidification is still necessary to form amyloid from the mutant protein in vitro. Interestingly, at low pH and low ionic strength long, straight fibrils of recombinant beta(2)M are formed in vitro. The fibrils comprise three distinct morphological types when examined using electron microscopy (EM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) that vary in periodicity and the number of constituent protofibrils. Using kinetic experiments we suggest that the immature fibrils observed previously do not represent intermediates in the assembly of fully mature amyloid, at least under the conditions studied here.


Haass, C. and H. Steiner (2001). "Protofibrils, the unifying toxic molecule of neurodegenerative disorders?" Nat Neurosci 4(9): 859-60.


Gregoire, C., S. Marco, et al. (2001). "Three-dimensional structure of the lithostathine protofibril, a protein involved in Alzheimer's disease." Embo J 20(13): 3313-21.

            Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by the presence of filamentous aggregates of proteins. We previously established that lithostathine is a protein overexpressed in the pre-clinical stages of Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, it is present in the pathognomonic lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease. After self-proteolysis, the N-terminally truncated form of lithostathine leads to the formation of fibrillar aggregates. Here we observed using atomic force microscopy that these aggregates consisted of a network of protofibrils, each of which had a twisted appearance. Electron microscopy and image analysis showed that this twisted protofibril has a quadruple helical structure. Three-dimensional X-ray structural data and the results of biochemical experiments showed that when forming a protofibril, lithostathine was first assembled via lateral hydrophobic interactions into a tetramer. Each tetramer then linked up with another tetramer as the result of longitudinal electrostatic interactions. All these results were used to build a structural model for the lithostathine protofibril called the quadruple-helical filament (QHF-litho). In conclusion, lithostathine strongly resembles the prion protein in its dramatic proteolysis and amyloid proteins in its ability to form fibrils.


El-Agnaf, O. M., S. Nagala, et al. (2001). "Non-fibrillar oligomeric species of the amyloid ABri peptide, implicated in familial British dementia, are more potent at inducing apoptotic cell death than protofibrils or mature fibrils." J Mol Biol 310(1): 157-68.

            Familial British dementia (FBD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder, with biochemical and pathological similarities to Alzheimer's disease. FBD is associated with a point mutation in the stop codon of the BRI gene. The mutation extends the length of the wild-type protein by 11 amino acids, and following proteolytic cleavage, results in the production of a cyclic peptide (ABri) 11 amino acids longer than the wild-type (WT) peptide produced from th