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αB-crystallin inhibits amyloidogenesis by disassembling aggregation nuclei

By Olga Tkachenko, Justin L. P. Benesch, A.J. Baldwin

Posted 17 Apr 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/300541

Amyloid formation is implicated in a range of neurodegenerative conditions including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The small heat-shock protein αB-crystallin (αBC) is associated with both, and directly inhibits amyloid formation in vitro and its toxicity in cells. Studying the mechanism of aggregation inhibition is challenging owing to sample heterogeneity and the dynamic nature of the process. Here, by means of NMR spectroscopy and chemical kinetics, we establish the mechanism by which the protein α-lactalbumin aggregates and forms amyloid, and how this is inhibited by αBC. In particular, we characterise the lifetime of the unstable aggregation nucleus, and determine that this species is specifically destabilised by αBC. This mechanism allows the chaperone to delay the onset of aggregation, although it is overwhelmed on longer timescales. The methodology we present provides a mechanistic understanding of how αBC reduces the toxicity of amyloids, and is widely applicable to other complex mixtures.

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