A disulfide-linked amyloid-beta peptide dimer forms a protofibril-like oligomer through a distinct pathway from amyloid fibril formation

Takahiro Yamaguchi, Hisashi Yagi, Yuji Goto, Katsumi Matsuzaki, Masaru Hoshino
Biochemistry 2010 August 24, 49 (33): 7100-7
The conversion of the soluble, nontoxic amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptide into an aggregated, toxic form rich in beta-sheets is considered a key step in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Whereas growing evidence indicates that the Abeta amyloid fibrils consist of in-register parallel beta-sheets, little is known about the structure of soluble oligomeric intermediates because of their transient nature. To understand the mechanism by which amyloid fibrils form, especially the initial development of the "nucleus" oligomeric intermediates, we prepared covalently linked dimeric Abeta peptides and analyzed the kinetics of the fibril-forming process. A covalent bond introduced between two Abeta molecules dramatically facilitated the spontaneous formation of aggregates with a beta-sheet structure and affinity for thioflavin T. Transmission electron microscopy revealed, however, that these aggregates differed in morphology from amyloid fibrils, more closely resembling protofibrils. The protofibril-like aggregates were not the most thermodynamically stable state but were a kinetically trapped state. The results emphasize the importance of the conformational flexibility of the Abeta molecule and a balance in the association and dissociation rate for the formation of rigid amyloid fibrils.

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