Amyloid-beta protofibrils differ from amyloid-beta aggregates induced in dilute hexafluoroisopropanol in stability and morphology

Michael R Nichols, Melissa A Moss, Dana Kim Reed, Stephanie Cratic-McDaniel, Jan H Hoh, Terrone L Rosenberry
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2005 January 28, 280 (4): 2471-80
The brains of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients contain large numbers of amyloid plaques that are rich in fibrils composed of 40- and 42-residue amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptides. Several lines of evidence indicate that fibrillar Abeta and especially soluble Abeta aggregates are important in the etiology of AD. Recent reports also stress that amyloid aggregates are polymorphic and that a single polypeptide can fold into multiple amyloid conformations. Here we demonstrate that Abeta-(1-40) can form soluble aggregates with predominant beta-structures that differ in stability and morphology. One class of aggregates involved soluble Abeta protofibrils, prepared by vigorous overnight agitation of monomeric Abeta-(1-40) at low ionic strength. Dilution of these aggregation reactions induced disaggregation to monomers as measured by size exclusion chromatography. Protofibril concentrations monitored by thioflavin T fluorescence decreased in at least two kinetic phases, with initial disaggregation (rate constant approximately 1 h(-1)) followed by a much slower secondary phase. Incubation of the reactions without agitation resulted in less disaggregation at slower rates, indicating that the protofibrils became progressively more stable over time. In fact, protofibrils isolated by size exclusion chromatography were completely stable and gave no disaggregation. A second class of soluble Abeta aggregates was generated rapidly (<10 min) in buffered 2% hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP). These aggregates showed increased thioflavin T fluorescence and were rich in beta-structure by circular dichroism. Electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy revealed initial globular clusters that progressed over several days to soluble fibrous aggregates. When diluted out of HFIP, these aggregates initially were very unstable and disaggregated completely within 2 min. However, their stability increased as they progressed to fibers. Relative to Abeta protofibrils, the HFIP-induced aggregates seeded elongation by Abeta monomer deposition very poorly. The techniques used to distinguish these two classes of soluble Abeta aggregates may be useful in characterizing Abeta aggregates formed in vivo.


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