Ex situ atomic force microscopy analysis of beta-amyloid self-assembly and deposition on a synthetic template

Chanki Ha, Chan Beum Park
Langmuir: the ACS Journal of Surfaces and Colloids 2006 August 1, 22 (16): 6977-85
The beta-amyloid (Abeta) deposition, which is the conversion of soluble Abeta peptides to insoluble plaques on a surface, is an essential pathological process in Alzheimer's disease (AD). The identification and characterization of possible environmental factors that may influence amyloid deposition in vivo are important to unveil the underlying etiology of AD. According to the amyloid cascade hypothesis, diffuse plaques are initial and visual deposits in the early event of AD, leading to amyloid plaques. To study amyloid deposition and growth in vitro, we prepared a synthetic template by immobilizing Abeta seeds on an N-hydroxysuccinimide ester-activated solid surface. According to our analysis with an ex situ atomic force microscope, the formation of amyloid plaque-like aggregates was mediated by the interaction between Abeta in a solution and on a synthetic template, suggesting that Abeta oligomers function well as seeds for amyloid deposition. It was observed that insoluble amyloid aggregates formed on the template surface serve as a sink of soluble Abeta in a solution as well as mediate the formation of intermediates in the pathway of amyloid fibrillization in a solution. Relative seeding efficiencies of fresh monomers, oligomers, and fully grown fibrils were analyzed by measuring the deposited plaque volume and its height distribution through atomic force microscopy. The result revealed that oligomeric forms of Abeta act more efficiently as seeds than monomers or fibrils do. Fluorescence spectroscopy with thioflavin T confirmed that amyloid aggregate formation proceeds in a concentration-dependent manner. Analysis with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy indicated a progressive transition of soluble Abeta42 monomer to amyloid fibrils having antiparallel beta-sheet structure on the template. Furthermore, studies on the interaction between Abeta40 and 42, two major variants of Abeta derived from the amyloid precursor protein, showed that amyloid aggregate formation on the surface was accelerated further by the homogeneous association of soluble Abeta42 onto Abeta42 seeds than by other combinations. A slightly acidic condition was found to be unfavorable for amyloid formation. This study gives insight into understanding the effects of environmental factors on amyloid formation via the use of a synthetic template system.

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