Structural transformation and aggregation of human alpha-synuclein in trifluoroethanol: non-amyloid component sequence is essential and beta-sheet formation is prerequisite to aggregation

Hong-Tao Li, Hai-Ning Du, Lin Tang, Jun Hu, Hong-Yu Hu
Biopolymers 2002 August 5, 64 (4): 221-6
Amyloid-like aggregation of alpha-synuclein and deposit in Lewy bodies are thought to be the major cause of Parkinson's disease. Here we describe the secondary structural transformation and aggregation of human alpha-synuclein and its C-terminus truncated fragments in trifluoroethanol. Proteins containing the NAC (non-amyloid component) segment undergo a three-state transition: from native random coil to beta-sheet and to alpha-helical structure, while the NAC deficient fragment and gamma-synuclein undergo a typical two-state coil-to-alpha transition. The beta-sheet form is highly hydrophobic that strongly binds to 1-anilinonaphthalene-8-sulfonic acid (ANS) and is prone to self-aggregation. The results suggest that the NAC sequence is essential to beta-sheet formation and the aggregation originates from the beta-sheet intermediate, which may be implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease.

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