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The human chaperone DNAJB6b increases the solubility of proteins involved in protein aggregation diseases and suppresses the nucleation of amyloid structures. Due to such favourable properties, DNAJB6b has gained increasing attention over the past decade. The understanding of how DNAJB6b operates on a molecular level may aid the design of inhibitors against amyloid formation. In this work, fundamental aspects of DNAJB6b self-assembly have been examined, providing a basis for future experimental designs and conclusions. The results imply the formation of large chaperone clusters in a concentration-dependent manner. Microfluidic diffusional sizing (MDS) was used to evaluate how DNAJB6b average hydrodynamic radius varies with concentration. We found that, in 20 mM sodium phosphate buffer, 0.2 mM EDTA, at pH 8.0 and room temperature, DNAJB6b displays a micellar behaviour, with a critical micelle concentration (CMC) of around 120 nM. The average hydrodynamic radius appears to be concentration independent between ∼10 μM and 100 μM, with a mean radius of about 12 nm. The CMC found by MDS is supported by native agarose gel electrophoresis and the size distribution appears bimodal in the DNAJB6b concentration range ∼100 nM to 4 μM.
α-Synuclein is a small neuronal protein that reversibly associates with lipid membranes. The membrane interactions are believed to be central to the healthy function of this protein involved in synaptic plasticity and neurotransmitter release. α-Synuclein has been speculated to induce vesicle fusion as well as fission, processes which are analogous to each other but proceed in different directions and involve different driving forces. In the current work, we analyse α-synuclein-induced small unilamellar vesicle deformation from a thermodynamics point of view. We show that the structures interpreted in the literature as fusion intermediates are in fact a stable deformed state and neither fusion nor vesicle clustering occurs. We speculate on the driving force for the observed deformation and put forward a hypothesis that α-synuclein self-assembly on the lipid membrane precedes and induces membrane remodelling.
Chaperones protect other proteins against misfolding and aggregation, a key requirement for maintaining biological function. Experimental observations of changes in solubility of amyloid proteins in the presence of certain chaperones are discussed here in terms of thermodynamic driving forces. We outline how chaperones can enhance amyloid solubility through the formation of heteromolecular aggregates (co-aggregates) based on the second law of thermodynamics and the flux towards equal chemical potential of each compound in all phases of the system. Higher effective solubility of an amyloid peptide in the presence of chaperone implies that the chemical potential of the peptide is higher in the aggregates formed under these conditions compared to peptide-only aggregates. This must be compensated by a larger reduction in chemical potential of the chaperone in the presence of peptide compared to chaperone alone. The driving force thus relies on the chaperone being very unhappy on its own (high chemical potential), thus gaining more free energy than the amyloid peptide loses upon forming the co-aggregate. The formation of heteromolecular aggregates also involves the kinetic suppression of the formation of homomolecular aggregates. The unhappiness of the chaperone can explain the ability of chaperones to favour an increased population of monomeric client protein even in the absence of external energy input, and with broad client specificity. This perspective opens for a new direction of chaperone research and outlines a set of outstanding questions that aim to provide additional cues for therapeutic development in this area.
α-Synuclein (α-syn) is an intrinsically disordered protein with a highly asymmetric charge distribution, whose aggregation is linked to Parkinson’s disease. The effect of ionic strength was investigated at mildly acidic pH (5.5) in the presence of catalytic surfaces in the form of α-syn seeds or anionic lipid vesicles using thioflavin T fluorescence measurements. Similar trends were observed with both surfaces: increasing ionic strength reduced the rate of α-syn aggregation although the surfaces as well as α-syn have a net negative charge at pH 5.5. This anomalous salt dependence implies that short-range attractive electrostatic interactions are critical for secondary nucleation as well as heterogeneous primary nucleation. Such interactions were confirmed in Monte Carlo simulations of α-syn monomers interacting with surface-grafted C-terminal tails, and found to be weakened in the presence of salt. Thus, nucleation of α-syn aggregation depends critically on an attractive electrostatic component that is screened by salt to the extent that it outweighs the screening of the long-range repulsion between negatively charged monomers and negative surfaces. Interactions between the positively charged N-termini of α-syn monomers on the one hand, and the negatively C-termini of α-syn on fibrils or vesicles surfaces on the other hand, are thus critical for nucleation.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by proteinaceous aggregates named Lewy Bodies and Lewy Neurites containing α-synuclein fibrils. The underlying aggregation mechanism of this protein is dominated by a secondary process at mildly acidic pH, as in endosomes and other organelles. This effect manifests as a strong acceleration of the aggregation in the presence of seeds and a weak dependence of the aggregation rate on monomer concentration. The molecular mechanism underlying this process could be nucleation of monomers on fibril surfaces or fibril fragmentation. Here, we aim to distinguish between these mechanisms. The nature of the secondary processes was investigated using differential sedimentation analysis, trap and seed experiments, quartz crystal microbalance experiments and super-resolution microscopy. The results identify secondary nucleation of monomers on the fibril surface as the dominant secondary process leading to rapid generation of new aggregates, while no significant contribution from fragmentation was found. The newly generated oligomeric species quickly elongate to further serve as templates for secondary nucleation and this may have important implications in the spreading of PD.
Calbindin D28k is a highly conserved
Ca2+-binding protein abundant in brain and sensory
neurons. The 261-residue protein contains six EF-hands
packed into one globular domain. In this study, we have
reconstituted calbindin D28k from two fragments
containing three EF-hands each (residues 1–132 and
133–261, respectively), and from other combinations
of small and large fragments. Complex formation is studied
by ion-exchange and size-exclusion chromatography, electrophoresis,
surface plasmon resonance, as well as circular dichroism
(CD), fluorescence, and NMR spectroscopy. Similar chromatographic
behavior to the native protein is observed for reconstituted
complexes formed by mixing different sets of complementary
fragments, produced by introducing a cut between EF-hands
1, 2, 3, or 4. The C-terminal half (residues 133–261)
appears to have a lower intrinsic stability compared to
the N-terminal half (residues 1–132). In the presence
of Ca2+, NMR spectroscopy reveals a high degree
of structural similarity between the intact protein and
the protein reconstituted from the 1–132 and 133–261
fragments. The affinity between these two fragments is
2 × 107 M−1, with association
and dissociation rate constants of 2.7 × 104
M−1 s−1 and 1.4 ×
10−3 s−1, respectively.
The complex formed in the presence of Ca2+ is
remarkably stable towards unfolding by urea and heat. Both
the complex and intact protein display cold and heat denaturation,
although residual α-helical structure is seen in the
urea denatured state at high temperature. In the absence
of Ca2+, the fragments do not recombine to yield
a complex resembling the intact apo protein. Thus, calbindin
D28k is an example of a protein that can only
be reconstituted in the presence of bound ligand. The α-helical
CD signal is increased by 26% after addition of Ca2+
to each half of the protein. This suggests that Ca2+-induced
folding of the fragments is important for successful reconstitution
of calbindin D28k.
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