The emerging role of α-synuclein truncation in aggregation and diseaseα-Synuclein (αsyn) is an abundant brain neuronal protein that can misfold and polymerize to form toxic fibrils coalescing into pathologic inclusions in neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease, Lewy body dementia, and multiple system atrophy. These fibrils may induce further αsyn misfolding and propagation of pathologic fibrils in a prion-like process. It is unclear why αsyn initially misfolds, but a growing body of literature suggests a critical role of partial proteolytic processing resulting in various truncations of the highly charged and flexible carboxyl-terminal region.
Structure-based inhibitors halt prion-like seeding by Alzheimer’s disease–and tauopathy–derived brain tissue samplesIn Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and tauopathies, tau aggregation accompanies progressive neurodegeneration. Aggregated tau appears to spread between adjacent neurons and adjacent brain regions by prion-like seeding. Hence, inhibitors of this seeding offer a possible route to managing tauopathies. Here, we report the 1.0 Å resolution micro-electron diffraction structure of an aggregation-prone segment of tau with the sequence SVQIVY, present in the cores of patient-derived fibrils from AD and tauopathies.
Defining α-synuclein species responsible for Parkinson’s disease phenotypes in miceParkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by fibrillar neuronal inclusions composed of aggregated α-synuclein (α-syn). These inclusions are associated with behavioral and pathological PD phenotypes. One strategy for therapeutic interventions is to prevent the formation of these inclusions to halt disease progression. α-Synuclein exists in multiple structural forms, including disordered, nonamyloid oligomers, ordered amyloid oligomers, and fibrils. It is critical to understand which conformers contribute to specific PD phenotypes.
Elucidating Tau function and dysfunction in the era of cryo-EMTau is a microtubule-associated protein involved in the regulation of axonal microtubules in neurons. In pathological conditions, it forms fibrils that are molecular hallmarks of neurological disorders known as tauopathies. In the last 2 years, cryo-EM has given unprecedented high-resolution views of Tau in both physiological and pathological conditions. We review here these new findings and put them into the context of the knowledge about Tau before this structural breakthrough. The first structures of Tau fibrils, a molecular hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD), were based on fibrils from the brain of an individual with AD and, along with similar patient-derived structures, have set the gold standard for the field.
A clinical dose of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor and heterozygous ACE deletion exacerbate Alzheimer's disease pathology in miceInhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) is a strategy used worldwide for managing hypertension. In addition to converting angiotensin I to angiotensin II, ACE also converts neurotoxic β-amyloid protein 42 (Aβ42) to Aβ40. Because of its neurotoxicity, Aβ42 is believed to play a causative role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), whereas Aβ40 has neuroprotective effects against Aβ42 aggregation and also against metal-induced oxidative damage. Whether ACE inhibition enhances Aβ42 aggregation or impairs human cognitive ability are very important issues for preventing AD onset and for optimal hypertension management.
Matter over mind: Liquid phase separation and neurodegenerationPhase separation of biomolecules leading to the formation of assemblies with distinct material properties has recently emerged as a new paradigm underlying subcellular organization. The discovery that disordered proteins, long associated with aggregation in neurodegenerative disease, are also implicated in driving liquid phase separation has galvanized significant interest in exploring the relationship between misregulated phase transitions and disease. This review summarizes recent work linking liquid phase separation to neurodegeneration, highlighting a pathological role for altered phase behavior and material properties of proteins assembled via liquid phase separation.
The molecular tweezer CLR01 inhibits aberrant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) self-assembly in vitro and in the G93A-SOD1 mouse model of ALSMutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) cause 15–20% of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS) cases. The resulting amino acid substitutions destabilize SOD1's protein structure, leading to its self-assembly into neurotoxic oligomers and aggregates, a process hypothesized to cause the characteristic motor-neuron degeneration in affected individuals. Currently, effective disease-modifying therapy is not available for ALS. Molecular tweezers prevent formation of toxic protein assemblies, yet their protective action has not been tested previously on SOD1 or in the context of ALS.
Distinct differences in prion-like seeding and aggregation between Tau protein variants provide mechanistic insights into tauopathiesThe accumulation of aberrantly aggregated MAPT (microtubule-associated protein Tau) defines a spectrum of tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease. Mutations in the MAPT gene cause frontotemporal dementia with Parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17), characterized by neuronal pathological Tau inclusions in the form of neurofibrillary tangles and Pick bodies and in some cases glial Tau pathology. Increasing evidence points to the importance of prion-like seeding as a mechanism for the pathological spread in tauopathy and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Asparagine and glutamine ladders promote cross-species prion conversionPrion transmission between species is governed in part by primary sequence similarity between the infectious prion aggregate, PrPSc, and the cellular prion protein of the host, PrPC. A puzzling feature of prion formation is that certain PrPC sequences, such as that of bank vole, can be converted by a remarkably broad array of different mammalian prions, whereas others, such as rabbit, show robust resistance to cross-species prion conversion. To examine the structural determinants that confer susceptibility or resistance to prion conversion, we systematically tested over 40 PrPC variants of susceptible and resistant PrPC sequences in a prion conversion assay.
Selective imaging of internalized proteopathic α-synuclein seeds in primary neurons reveals mechanistic insight into transmission of synucleinopathiesDirect cell-to-cell transmission of proteopathic α-synuclein (α-syn) aggregates is thought to underlie the progression of neurodegenerative synucleinopathies. However, the specific intracellular processes governing this transmission remain unclear because currently available model systems are limited. For example, in cell culture models of α-syn–seeded aggregation, it is difficult to discern intracellular from extracellular exogenously applied α-syn seed species. Herein, we employed fluorescently labeled α-syn preformed fibrils (pffs) in conjunction with the membrane-impermeable fluorescence quencher trypan blue to selectively image internalized α-syn seeds in cultured primary neurons and to quantitatively characterize the concentration dependence, time course, and inhibition of pff uptake.
Novel Antibody for the Treatment of Transthyretin AmyloidosisFamilial amyloidotic polyneuropathy (FAP) is a systemic amyloidosis mainly caused by amyloidogenic transthyretin (ATTR). This incurable disease causes death ∼10 years after onset. Although it has been widely accepted that conformational change of the monomeric form of transthyretin (TTR) is very important for amyloid formation and deposition in the organs, no effective therapy targeting this step is available. In this study, we generated a mouse monoclonal antibody, T24, that recognized the cryptic epitope of conformationally changed TTR.
Quantification of the Relative Contributions of Loss-of-function and Gain-of-function Mechanisms in TAR DNA-binding Protein 43 (TDP-43) ProteinopathiesAmyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin positive inclusions (FTLD-U) are two clinically distinct neurodegenerative conditions sharing a similar histopathology characterized by the nuclear clearance of TDP-43 and its associated deposition into cytoplasmic inclusions in different areas of the central nervous system. Given the concomitant occurrence of TDP-43 nuclear depletion and cytoplasmic accumulation, it has been proposed that TDP-43 proteinopathies originate from either a loss-of-function (LOF) mechanism, a gain-of-function (GOF) process, or both.
A Greek Tragedy: The Growing Complexity of Alzheimer Amyloid Precursor Protein ProteolysisProteolysis of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) liberates various fragments including the proposed initiator of Alzheimer disease-associated dysfunctions, amyloid-β. However, recent evidence suggests that the accepted view of APP proteolysis by the canonical α-, β-, and γ-secretases is simplistic, with the discovery of a number of novel APP secretases (including δ- and η-secretases, alternative β-secretases) and additional metabolites, some of which may also cause synaptic dysfunction. Furthermore, various proteins have been identified that interact with APP and modulate its cleavage by the secretases.
The Effect of Fragmented Pathogenic α-Synuclein Seeds on Prion-like PropagationAggregates of abnormal proteins are widely observed in neuronal and glial cells of patients with various neurodegenerative diseases, and it has been proposed that prion-like behavior of these proteins can account for not only the onset but also the progression of these diseases. However, it is not yet clear which abnormal protein structures function most efficiently as seeds for prion-like propagation. In this study, we aimed to identify the most pathogenic species of α-synuclein (α-syn), the main component of the Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites that are observed in α-synucleinopathies.
Cross-interactions between the Alzheimer Disease Amyloid-β Peptide and Other Amyloid Proteins: A Further Aspect of the Amyloid Cascade HypothesisMany protein folding diseases are intimately associated with accumulation of amyloid aggregates. The amyloid materials formed by different proteins/peptides share many structural similarities, despite sometimes large amino acid sequence differences. Some amyloid diseases constitute risk factors for others, and the progression of one amyloid disease may affect the progression of another. These connections are arguably related to amyloid aggregates of one protein being able to directly nucleate amyloid formation of another, different protein: the amyloid cross-interaction.
Templated Aggregation of TAR DNA-binding Protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43) by Seeding with TDP-43 Peptide FibrilsTAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43) has been identified as the major component of ubiquitin-positive neuronal and glial inclusions in frontotemporal lobar degeneration and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Aggregation of TDP-43 to amyloid-like fibrils and spreading of the aggregates are suggested to account for the pathogenesis and progression of these diseases. To investigate the molecular mechanisms of TDP-43 aggregation, we attempted to identify the amino acid sequence required for the aggregation.
Amyloid-β Receptors: The Good, the Bad, and the Prion ProteinSeveral different receptor proteins have been identified that bind monomeric, oligomeric, or fibrillar forms of amyloid-β (Aβ). “Good” receptors internalize Aβ or promote its transcytosis out of the brain, whereas “bad” receptors bind oligomeric forms of Aβ that are largely responsible for the synapticloss, memory impairments, and neurotoxicity that underlie Alzheimer disease. The prion protein both removes Aβ from the brain and transduces the toxic actions of Aβ. The clustering of distinct receptors in cell surface signaling platforms likely underlies the actions of distinct oligomeric species of Aβ.
Amyloid Oligomers and Mature Fibrils Prepared from an Innocuous Protein Cause Diverging Cellular Death MechanismsBackground: Although oligomers are considered more important, mature fibrils also show evidence as cytotoxic agents in neurodegenerative diseases.Results: Oligomers and fibrils both kill PC12 cells albeit mechanistically differently. In vivo, only oligomers inhibit hippocampal long term potentiation.Conclusion: Protein aggregates, even those irrelevant to disease, are capable of inducing different toxic actions in neuronal cells.Significance: Understanding these toxic mechanisms is vital in improving amyloidosis therapy.
Role of Apolipoprotein E in β-Amyloidogenesis: ISOFORM-SPECIFIC EFFECTS ON PROTOFIBRIL TO FIBRIL CONVERSION OF Aβ IN VITRO AND BRAIN Aβ DEPOSITION IN VIVOBackground: ApoE is a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer disease.Results: As compared with apoE2/3, apoE4 failed to inhibit the conversion of Aβ protofibrils to fibrils in vitro. Intracerebral injection of Aβ protofibrils with apoE3 attenuated Aβ deposition, whereas apoE4 did not.Conclusion: ApoE3, not apoE4, impedes β-amyloid formation.Significance: Interaction between Aβ and apoE is a critical determinant of β-amyloid formation.