Probing Structural Features of Alzheimer’s Amyloid-β Pores in Bilayers Using Site-Specific Amino Acid Substitutions

Department of Bioengineering, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Material Science Program, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, United States.
Biochemistry (Impact Factor: 3.02). 01/2012; 51(3):776-85. DOI: 10.1021/bi2017427
Source: PubMed


A current hypothesis for the pathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) proposes that amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides induce uncontrolled, neurotoxic ion flux across cellular membranes. The mechanism of ion flux is not fully understood because no experiment-based Aβ channel structures at atomic resolution are currently available (only a few polymorphic states have been predicted by computational models). Structural models and experimental evidence lend support to the view that the Aβ channel is an assembly of loosely associated mobile β-sheet subunits. Here, using planar lipid bilayers and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, we show that amino acid substitutions can be used to infer which residues are essential for channel structure. We created two Aβ(1-42) peptides with point mutations: F19P and F20C. The substitution of Phe19 with Pro inhibited channel conductance. MD simulation suggests a collapsed pore of F19P channels at the lower bilayer leaflet. The kinks at the Pro residues in the pore-lining β-strands induce blockage of the solvated pore by the N-termini of the chains. The cysteine mutant is capable of forming channels, and the conductance behavior of F20C channels is similar to that of the wild type. Overall, the mutational analysis of the channel activity performed in this work tests the proposition that the channels consist of a β-sheet rich organization, with the charged/polar central strand containing the mutation sites lining the pore, and the C-terminal strands facing the hydrophobic lipid tails. A detailed understanding of channel formation and its structure should aid studies of drug design aiming to control unregulated Aβ-dependent ion fluxes.

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Available from: Ricardo Capone
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    • "The mechanism of AD-induced LTP suppression remains unknown. However, it has been postulated that cellular ionic dysregulation may contribute to AD pathology by embedding amyloid oligomers into the membrane to form amyloid channels [48] [56] [57], which in turn directly or indirectly alter membrane ion channel expression and activity [58-62]. Regular exercise is known to produce a positive effect on cognition and synaptic plasticity. "
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    ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by progressive memory loss. In contrast, accumulating evidence suggests a neuroprotective role of regular exercise in aging associated memory impairment. In this study, we investigated the ability of regular exercise to prevent impairments of short-term memory (STM) and early long-term potentiation (E-LTP) in area CA1 of the hippocampus in a rat model of AD (i.c.v. infusion of 250 pmol/day Aβ1-42 peptides). We utilized behavioral assessment, in vivo electrophysiological recording, and immunoblotting in 4 groups of adult Wistar rats: control, treadmill exercise (Ex), β-amyloid-infused (Aβ), and amyloid-infused/treadmill exercised (Ex/Aβ). Our findings indicated that Aβ rats made significantly more errors in the radial arm water maze (RAWM) compared to all other groups and exhibited suppressed E-LTP in area CA1, which correlated with deleterious alterations in the levels of memory and E-LTP-related signaling molecules including calcineurin (PP2B), brain derivedneurotrophic factor (BDNF) and phosphorylated CaMKII (p-CaMKII). Compared to controls, Ex and Ex/Aβ rats showed a similar behavioral performance and a normal E-LTP with no detrimental changes in the levels of PP2B, BDNF, and p- CaMKII. We conclude that treadmill exercise maybe able to prevent cognitive impairment associated with AD pathology.
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    • "Reconstituting Ab(1–42) with a planar lipid bilayer resulted in the formation of multimeric channel-like structures with symmetries suggesting tetramer or hexamer pore-like structures of Ab(Lin et al., 2001; Quist et al., 2005). The formation of a variety of similar aggregate structures in lipid membranes have also been demonstrated computationally (Capone et al., 2012; Tofoleanu and Buchete, 2012). Similar impacts on membranes due to exposure to Ab have been detected in cellular models. "
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    ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a misfolded protein disease characterized by the accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide as senile plaques, progressive neurodegeneration, and memory loss. Recent evidence suggests that AD pathology is linked to the destabilization of cellular ionic homeostasis mediated by toxic pores made of Aβ peptides. Understanding the exact nature by which these pores conduct electrical and molecular signals could aid in identifying potential therapeutic targets for the prevention and treatment of AD. Here using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, we compared the imaged pore structures with models to predict channel conformations as a function of amino acid sequence. Site-specific amino acid (AA) substitutions in the wild-type Aβ(1-42) peptide yield information regarding the location and significance of individual AA residues to its characteristic structure-activity relationship. We selected two AAs that our MD simulation predicted to inhibit or permit pore conductance. The substitution of Phe19 with Pro has previously been shown to eliminate conductance in the planar lipid bilayer system. Our MD simulations predict a channel-like shape with a collapsed pore, which is supported by the AFM channel images. We suggest that proline, a known β-sheet breaker, creates a kink in the center of the pore and prevents conductance via blockage. This residue may be a viable target for drug development studies aiming to inhibit Aβ from inducing ionic destabilization toxicity. The substitution of Phe20 with Cys exhibits pore structures indistinguishable from the wild type in AFM images. MD simulations predict site 20 to face the solvated pore. Overall, the mutations support the previously predicted β-sheet-based channel structure.
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