Phospholipid interaction induces molecular-level polymorphism in apolipoprotein C-II amyloid fibrils via alternative assembly pathways

Michael D W Griffin, Melva L Y Mok, Leanne M Wilson, Chi L L Pham, Lynne J Waddington, Matthew A Perugini, Geoffrey J Howlett
Journal of Molecular Biology 2008 January 4, 375 (1): 240-56
A common feature of many of the most important and prominent amyloid-forming proteins is their ability to bind lipids and lipid complexes. Lipids are ubiquitous components of disease-associated amyloid plaques and deposits in humans, yet the specific roles of lipid in the process of amyloid fibril formation are poorly understood. This study investigated the effect of phospholipids on amyloid fibril formation by human apolipoprotein (apo) C-II using phosphatidylcholine derivatives comprising acyl chains of up to 14 carbon atoms. Submicellar concentrations of short-chain phospholipids increase the rate of apoC-II fibril formation in an acyl-chain-length- and concentration-dependent fashion, while high micellar concentrations of phospholipids completely inhibited amyloid formation. At lower concentrations of soluble phospholipid complexes, fibril formation by apoC-II was only partially inhibited, and under these conditions, aggregation followed a two-phase process. Electron microscopy showed that the fibrils resulting from the second phase of aggregation were straight, cablelike, and about 13 nm wide, in contrast to the homogeneous twisted-ribbon morphology of apoC-II fibrils formed under lipid-free conditions. Seeding experiments showed that this alternative fibril structure could be templated both in the presence and in the absence of lipid complex, suggesting that the two morphologies result from distinct assembly pathways. Circular dichroism spectroscopy studies indicated that the secondary structural conformation within the straight-type and ribbon-type fibrils were distinct, further suggesting divergent assembly pathways. These studies show that phospholipid complexes can change the structural architecture of mature fibrils and generate new fibril morphologies with the potential to alter the in vivo behaviour of amyloid. Such lipid interactions may play a role in defining the structural features of fibrils formed by diverse amyloidogenic proteins.

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