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Publications

by Keyword: aggregation

Middelhoek, KINA, Magdanz, V, Abelmann, L, Khalil, ISM, (2022). Drug-Loaded IRONSperm clusters: modeling, wireless actuation, and ultrasound imaging Biomedical Materials 17, 65001

Individual biohybrid microrobots have the potential to perform biomedical in vivo tasks such as remote-controlled drug and cell delivery and minimally invasive surgery. This work demonstrates the formation of biohybrid sperm-templated clusters under the influence of an external magnetic field and essential functionalities for wireless actuation and drug delivery. Ferromagnetic nanoparticles are electrostatically assembled around dead sperm cells, and the resulting nanoparticle-coated cells are magnetically assembled into three-dimensional biohybrid clusters. The aim of this clustering is threefold: First, to enable rolling locomotion on a nearby solid boundary using a rotating magnetic field; second, to allow for noninvasive localization; third, to load the cells inside the cluster with drugs for targeted therapy. A magneto-hydrodynamic model captures the rotational response of the clusters in a viscous fluid, and predicts an upper bound for their step-out frequency, which is independent of their volume or aspect ratio. Below the step-out frequency, the rolling velocity of the clusters increases nonlinearly with their perimeter and actuation frequency. During rolling locomotion, the clusters are localized using ultrasound images at a relatively large distance, which makes these biohybrid clusters promising for deep-tissue applications. Finally, we show that the estimated drug load scales with the number of cells in the cluster and can be retained for more than 10 h. The aggregation of microrobots enables them to collectively roll in a predictable way in response to an external rotating magnetic field, and enhances ultrasound detectability and drug loading capacity compared to the individual microrobots. The favorable features of biohybrid microrobot clusters place emphasis on the importance of the investigation and development of collective microrobots and their potential for in vivo applications.

JTD Keywords: Driven, Drug delivery, Magnetic actuation, Magnetotactic bacteria, Microrobot aggregation, Microrobots, Motion, Movement, Propulsion, Sperm, Sphere, Ultrasound, Wall


Bouzon-Arnaiz, I, Avalos-Padilla, Y, Biosca, A, Cano-Prades, O, Roman-Alamo, L, Valle, J, Andreu, D, Moita, D, Prudencio, M, Arce, EM, Munoz-Torrero, D, Fernandez-Busquets, X, (2022). The protein aggregation inhibitor YAT2150 has potent antimalarial activity in Plasmodium falciparum in vitro cultures Bmc Biology 20, 197

Background By 2016, signs of emergence of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinin and partner drugs were detected in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Recently, the independent evolution of artemisinin resistance has also been reported in Africa and South America. This alarming scenario calls for the urgent development of new antimalarials with novel modes of action. We investigated the interference with protein aggregation, which is potentially toxic for the cell and occurs abundantly in all Plasmodium stages, as a hitherto unexplored drug target in the pathogen. Results Attempts to exacerbate the P. falciparum proteome's propensity to aggregation by delivering endogenous aggregative peptides to in vitro cultures of this parasite did not significantly affect their growth. In contrast, protein aggregation inhibitors clearly reduced the pathogen's viability. One such compound, the bis(styrylpyridinium) salt YAT2150, exhibited potent antiplasmodial activity with an in vitro IC50 of 90 nM for chloroquine- and artemisinin-resistant lines, arresting asexual blood parasites at the trophozoite stage, as well as interfering with the development of both sexual and hepatic forms of Plasmodium. At its IC50, this compound is a powerful inhibitor of the aggregation of the model amyloid beta peptide fragment 1-40, and it reduces the amount of aggregated proteins in P. falciparum cultures, suggesting that the underlying antimalarial mechanism consists in a generalized impairment of proteostasis in the pathogen. YAT2150 has an easy, rapid, and inexpensive synthesis, and because it fluoresces when it accumulates in its main localization in the Plasmodium cytosol, it is a theranostic agent. Conclusions Inhibiting protein aggregation in Plasmodium significantly reduces the parasite's viability in vitro. Since YAT2150 belongs to a novel structural class of antiplasmodials with a mode of action that potentially targets multiple gene products, rapid evolution of resistance to this drug is unlikely to occur, making it a promising compound for the post-artemisinin era.

JTD Keywords: Amyloid formation, Amyloid pan-inhibitors, Antimalarial drugs, Colocalization, Cytosolic delivery, Derivatives, Disease, Drug, In-vitro, Malaria, Mechanism, Plasmodium falciparum, Polyglutamine, Protein aggregation, Yat2150


El Hauadi K, Resina L, Zanuy D, Esteves T, Ferreira FC, Pérez-Madrigal MM, Alemán C, (2022). Dendritic Self-assembled Structures from Therapeutic Charged Pentapeptides Langmuir 38, 12905-12914

CRENKA [Cys-Arg-(NMe)Glu-Lys-Ala, where (NMe)Glu refers to N-methyl-Glu], an anti-cancer pentapeptide that induces prostate tumor necrosis and significant reduction in tumor growth, was engineered to increase the resistance to endogenous proteases of its parent peptide, CREKA (Cys-Arg-Glu-Lys-Ala). Considering their high tendency to aggregate, the self-assembly of CRENKA and CREKA into well-defined and ordered structures has been examined as a function of peptide concentration and pH. Spectroscopic studies and atomistic molecular dynamics simulations reveal significant differences between the secondary structures of CREKA and CRENKA. Thus, the restrictions imposed by the (NMe)Glu residue reduce the conformational variability of CRENKA with respect to CREKA, which significantly affects the formation of well-defined and ordered self-assembly morphologies. Aggregates with poorly defined morphology are obtained from solutions with low and moderate CREKA concentrations at pH 4, whereas well-defined dendritic microstructures with fractal geometry are obtained from CRENKA solutions with similar peptide concentrations at pH 4 and 7. The formation of dendritic structures is proposed to follow a two-step mechanism: (1) pseudo-spherical particles are pre-nucleated through a diffusion-limited aggregation process, pre-defining the dendritic geometry, and (2) such pre-nucleated structures coalesce by incorporating conformationally restrained CRENKA molecules from the solution to their surfaces, forming a continuous dendritic structure. Instead, no regular assembly is obtained from solutions with high peptide concentrations, as their dynamics is dominated by strong repulsive peptide-peptide electrostatic interactions, and from solutions at pH 10, in which the total peptide charge is zero. Overall, results demonstrate that dendritic structures are only obtained when the molecular charge of CRENKA, which is controlled through the pH, favors kinetics over thermodynamics during the self-assembly process.

JTD Keywords: aggregation, amphiphilic peptides, breast-cancer, cells, design, oxidative stress, resistance, strategy, Molecular-dynamics


Molina-Fernandez, R, Picon-Pages, P, Barranco-Almohalla, A, Crepin, G, Herrera-Fernandez, V, Garcia-Elias, A, Fanlo-Ucar, H, Fernandez-Busquets, X, Garcia-Ojalvo, J, Oliva, B, Munoz, FJ, (2022). Differential regulation of insulin signalling by monomeric and oligomeric amyloid beta-peptide Brain Commun 4, fcac243

Alzheimer's disease and Type 2 diabetes are pathological processes associated to ageing. Moreover, there are evidences supporting a mechanistic link between Alzheimer's disease and insulin resistance (one of the first hallmarks of Type 2 diabetes). Regarding Alzheimer's disease, amyloid beta-peptide aggregation into beta-sheets is the main hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. At monomeric state, amyloid beta-peptide is not toxic but its function in brain, if any, is unknown. Here we show, by in silico study, that monomeric amyloid beta-peptide 1-40 shares the tertiary structure with insulin and is thereby able to bind and activate insulin receptor. We validated this prediction experimentally by treating human neuroblastoma cells with increasing concentrations of monomeric amyloid. beta-peptide 1-40. Our results confirm that monomeric amyloid beta-peptide 1-40 activates insulin receptor autophosphorylation, triggering downstream enzyme phosphorylarions and the glucose Transporter 4 translocation to the membrane. On the other hand, neuronal insulin resistance is known to be associated to Alzheimer's disease since early stages. We thus modelled the docking of oligomeric amyloid peptide 1-40 to insulin receptor. We found that oligomeric amyloid. beta-peptide 1-40 blocks insulin receptor, impairing its activation. It was confirmed in vitro by observing the lack of insulin receptor autophosphorylation, and also the impairment of insulin-induced intracellular enzyme activations and the glucose Transporter 4 translocation to the membrane. By biological system analysis, we have carried out a mathematical model recapitulating the process that turns amyloid beta-peptide binding to insulin receptor from the physiological to the pathophysiological regime. Our results suggest that monomeric amyloid beta-peptide 1-40 contributes to mimic insulin effects in the brain, which could be good when neurons have an extra requirement of energy beside the well-known protective effects on insulin intracellular signalling, while its accumulation and subsequent oligomerization blocks the insulin receptor producing insulin resistance and compromising neuronal metabolism and protective pathways.

JTD Keywords: A-beta, Aggregation, Akt, Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimers-disease, Amyloid beta-peptide, Brain, Design, Insulin, Insulin resistance, Precursor protein, Protein-protein docking, Receptor, Resistance, Site


Seuma M, Bolognesi B, (2022). Understanding and evolving prions by yeast multiplexed assays Current Opinion In Genetics & Development 75, 101941

Yeast genetics made it possible to derive the first fundamental insights into prion composition, conformation, and propagation. Fast-forward 30 years and the same model organism is now proving an extremely powerful tool to comprehensively explore the impact of mutations in prion sequences on their function, toxicity, and physical properties. Here, we provide an overview of novel multiplexed strategies where deep mutagenesis is combined to a range of tailored selection assays in yeast, which are particularly amenable for investigating prions and prion-like sequences. By mimicking evolution in a flask, these multiplexed approaches are revealing mechanistic insights on the consequences of prion self-assembly, while also reporting on the structure prion sequences adopt in vivo.Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: aggregation, appearance, domains, inheritance, mutations, nucleation, physical basis, propagation, protein, Phase-separation


Rizzello, L, De Matteis, V, (2022). Identification of SARS-CoV-2 by Gold Nanoparticles Biocell 46, 2369-2380

The SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks highlighted the need for effective, reliable, fast, easy-to-do and cheap diagnostics procedures. We pragmatically experienced that an early positive-case detection, inevitably coupled with a mass vaccination campaign, is a milestone to control the COVID-19 pandemic. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) can indeed play a crucial role in this context, as their physicochemical, optics and electronics properties are being extensively used in photothermal therapy (PTT), radiation therapy (RT), drug delivery and diagnostic. AuNPs can be synthesized by several approaches to obtain different sizes and shapes that can be easily functionalized with many kinds of molecules such as antibodies, proteins, probes, and lipids. In addition, AuNPs showed high biocompatibility making them useful tool in medicine field. We thus reviewed here the most relevant evidence on AuNPs as effective way to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antigens. We trust future diagnostic efforts must take this 'old-fashioned' nanotechnology tool into consideration for the development and commercialization of reliable and feasible detection kits.

JTD Keywords: Aggregation, Antibodies, Assay, Covid-19, Diagnosis, Enhanced raman-scattering, Gold nanoparticles, Immunoassay, Pandemic disease, Physicochemical properties, Rapid detection, Sars-cov-2, Sensors, Surface-plasmon resonance, Therapy


Ferrer, I, Andres-Benito, P, Ausin, K, Cartas-Cejudo, P, Lachen-Montes, M, del Rio, JA, Fernandez-Irigoyen, J, Santamaria, E, (2022). Dysregulated Brain Protein Phosphorylation Linked to Increased Human Tau Expression in the hTau Transgenic Mouse Model International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 6427

Altered protein phosphorylation is a major pathologic modification in tauopathies and Alzheimer's disease (AD) linked to abnormal tau fibrillar deposits in neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and pre-tangles and beta-amyloid deposits in AD. hTau transgenic mice, which express 3R and less 4R human tau with no mutations in a murine knock-out background, show increased tau deposition in neurons but not NFTs and pre-tangles at the age of nine months. Label-free (phospho)proteomics and SWATH-MS identified 2065 proteins in hTau and wild-type (WT) mice. Only six proteins showed increased levels in hTau; no proteins were down-regulated. Increased tau phosphorylation in hTau was detected at Ser199, Ser202, Ser214, Ser396, Ser400, Thr403, Ser404, Ser413, Ser416, Ser422, Ser491, and Ser494, in addition to Thr181, Thr231, Ser396/Ser404, but not at Ser202/Thr205. In addition, 4578 phosphopeptides (corresponding to 1622 phosphoproteins) were identified in hTau and WT mice; 64 proteins were differentially phosphorylated in hTau. Sixty proteins were grouped into components of membranes, membrane signaling, synapses, vesicles, cytoskeleton, DNA/RNA/protein metabolism, ubiquitin/proteasome system, cholesterol and lipid metabolism, and cell signaling. These results showed that over-expression of human tau without pre-tangle and NFT formation preferentially triggers an imbalance in the phosphorylation profile of specific proteins involved in the cytoskeletal-membrane-signaling axis.

JTD Keywords: Aggregation, Alzheimers-disease, Animal-models, Cytoskeleton, Htau, Membrane, Mice, Networks, Pathology, Phosphoproteome analysis, Phosphorylation, Synapsis, Tau, Tauopathies, Tauopathy


Noguchi, Hiroshi, Tozzi, Caterina, Arroyo, Marino, (2022). Binding of anisotropic curvature-inducing proteins onto membrane tubes Soft Matter 18, 3384-3394

We studied how anisotropic proteins are orientationally ordered and change the radius of membrane tubes using mean-field theory with an orientation-dependent excluded volume interaction.

JTD Keywords: bar, density, driven, generation, inclusions, invagination, mechanisms, monte-carlo, tubulation, Mediated aggregation


Marte L, Boronat S, Barrios R, Barcons-Simon A, Bolognesi B, Cabrera M, Ayté J, Hidalgo E, (2022). Expression of Huntingtin and TDP-43 Derivatives in Fission Yeast Can Cause Both Beneficial and Toxic Effects International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 3950

Many neurodegenerative disorders display protein aggregation as a hallmark, Huntingtin and TDP-43 aggregates being characteristic of Huntington disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, respectively. However, whether these aggregates cause the diseases, are secondary by-products, or even have protective effects, is a matter of debate. Mutations in both human proteins can modulate the structure, number and type of aggregates, as well as their toxicity. To study the role of protein aggregates in cellular fitness, we have expressed in a highly tractable unicellular model different variants of Huntingtin and TDP-43. They each display specific patterns of aggregation and toxicity, even though in both cases proteins have to be very highly expressed to affect cell fitness. The aggregation properties of Huntingtin, but not of TDP-43, are affected by chaperones such as Hsp104 and the Hsp40 couple Mas5, suggesting that the TDP-43, but not Huntingtin, derivatives have intrinsic aggregation propensity. Importantly, expression of the aggregating form of Huntingtin causes a significant extension of fission yeast lifespan, probably as a consequence of kidnapping chaperones required for maintaining stress responses off. Our study demonstrates that in general these prion-like proteins do not cause toxicity under normal conditions, and in fact they can protect cells through indirect mechanisms which up-regulate cellular defense pathways. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

JTD Keywords: Chaperone, Chemistry, Dna binding protein, Dna-binding proteins, Fission yeast, Genetics, Human, Humans, Huntingtin, Metabolism, Molecular chaperones, Neurodegenerative diseases, Prion, Prions, Protein aggregate, Protein aggregates, Protein aggregation, Schizosaccharomyces, Tdp-43


Le Roux, Anabel-Lise, Tozzi, Caterina, Walani, Nikhil, Quiroga, Xarxa, Zalvidea, Dobryna, Trepat, Xavier, Staykova, Margarita, Arroyo, Marino, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, (2021). Dynamic mechanochemical feedback between curved membranes and BAR protein self-organization Nature Communications 12, 6550

In many physiological situations, BAR proteins reshape membranes with pre-existing curvature (templates), contributing to essential cellular processes. However, the mechanism and the biological implications of this reshaping process remain unclear. Here we show, both experimentally and through modelling, that BAR proteins reshape low curvature membrane templates through a mechanochemical phase transition. This phenomenon depends on initial template shape and involves the co-existence and progressive transition between distinct local states in terms of molecular organization (protein arrangement and density) and membrane shape (template size and spherical versus cylindrical curvature). Further, we demonstrate in cells that this phenomenon enables a mechanotransduction mode, in which cellular stretch leads to the mechanical formation of membrane templates, which are then reshaped into tubules by BAR proteins. Our results demonstrate the interplay between membrane mechanics and BAR protein molecular organization, integrating curvature sensing and generation in a comprehensive framework with implications for cell mechanical responses.

JTD Keywords: aggregation, amphiphysin, domains, vesicles, Article, Cell, Cell component, Curvature, Detection method, Geomembrane, Mechanotransduction, Membrane, Molecular analysis, Phase transition, Physiology, Protein, Self organization


Grob, M, Anselmetti, D, Fernandez-Busquets, X, (2021). In memory of Max Burger Journal Of Cellular Biochemistry 122, 1259-1261

Seuma, M, Faure, AJ, Badia, M, Lehner, B, Bolognesi, B, (2021). The genetic landscape for amyloid beta fibril nucleation accurately discriminates familial Alzheimer's disease mutations Elife 10, e63364

Plaques of the amyloid beta (A beta) peptide are a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common form of dementia. Mutations in A beta also cause familial forms of AD (fAD). Here, we use deep mutational scanning to quantify the effects of >14,000 mutations on the aggregation of A beta. The resulting genetic landscape reveals mechanistic insights into fibril nucleation, including the importance of charge and gatekeeper residues in the disordered region outside of the amyloid core in preventing nucleation. Strikingly, unlike computational predictors and previous measurements, the empirical nucleation scores accurately identify all known dominant fAD mutations in A beta, genetically validating that the mechanism of nucleation in a cell-based assay is likely to be very similar to the mechanism that causes the human disease. These results provide the first comprehensive atlas of how mutations alter the formation of any amyloid fibril and a resource for the interpretation of genetic variation in A beta.

JTD Keywords: aggregation, kinetics, oligomers, onset, rates, state, Aggregation, Alzheimer's, Amyloid, Computational biology, Deep mutagenesis, Genetics, Genomics, Kinetics, Nucleation, Oligomers, Onset, Precursor protein, Rates, S. cerevisiae, State, Systems biology


Biosca, A., Bouzón-Arnáiz, I., Spanos, L., Siden-Kiamos, I., Iglesias, V., Ventura, S., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2020). Detection of protein aggregation in live Plasmodium parasites Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 64, (6), e02135-19

The rapid evolution of resistance in the malaria parasite to every single drug developed against it calls for the urgent identification of new molecular targets. Using a stain specific for the detection of intracellular amyloid deposits in live cells, we have detected the presence of abundant protein aggregates in Plasmodium falciparum blood stages and female gametes cultured in vitro, in the blood stages of mice infected by Plasmodium yoelii, and in the mosquito stages of the murine malaria species Plasmodium berghei. Aggregated proteins could not be detected in early rings, the parasite form that starts the intraerythrocytic cycle. A proteomics approach was used to pinpoint actual aggregating polypeptides in functional P. falciparum blood stages, which resulted in the identification of 369 proteins, with roles particularly enriched in nuclear import-related processes. Five aggregation-prone short peptides selected from this protein pool exhibited different aggregation propensity according to Thioflavin-T fluorescence measurements, and were observed to form amorphous aggregates and amyloid fibrils in transmission electron microscope images. The results presented suggest that generalized protein aggregation might have a functional role in malaria parasites. Future antimalarial strategies based on the upsetting of the pathogen’s proteostasis and therefore affecting multiple gene products could represent the entry to new therapeutic approaches

JTD Keywords: Malaria, Protein aggregation


Pallarès, Irantzu, de Groot, Natalia S., Iglesias, Valentín, Sant'Anna, Ricardo, Biosca, Arnau, Fernàndez-Busquets, Xavier, Ventura, Salvador, (2018). Discovering putative prion-like proteins in Plasmodium falciparum: A computational and experimental analysis Frontiers in Microbiology 9, Article 1737

Prions are a singular subset of proteins able to switch between a soluble conformation and a self-perpetuating amyloid state. Traditionally associated with neurodegenerative diseases, increasing evidence indicates that organisms exploit prion-like mechanisms for beneficial purposes. The ability to transit between conformations is encoded in the so-called prion domains, long disordered regions usually enriched in glutamine/asparagines residues. Interestingly, Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most virulent form of malaria, is exceptionally rich in proteins bearing long Q/N-rich sequence stretches, accounting for roughly 30% of the proteome. This biased composition suggests that these protein regions might correspond to prion-like domains (PrLDs) and potentially form amyloid assemblies. To investigate this possibility, we performed a stringent computational survey for Q/N-rich PrLDs on P. falciparum. Our data indicate that ~10% of P. falciparum protein sequences have prionic signatures, and that this subproteome is enriched in regulatory proteins, such as transcription factors and RNA-binding proteins. Furthermore, we experimentally demonstrate for several of the identified PrLDs that, despite their disordered nature, they contain inner short sequences able to spontaneously self-assemble into amyloid-like structures. Although the ability of these sequences to nucleate the conformational conversion of the respective full-length proteins should still be demonstrated, our analysis suggests that, as previously described for other organisms, prion-like proteins might also play a functional role in P. falciparum.

JTD Keywords: Plasmodium, Protein aggregation, Amyloid, Prion, Q-N-rich sequences, Protein Disorder


Grice, L. F., Gauthier, M. E. A., Roper, K. E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Degnan, S. M., Degnan, B. M., (2017). Origin and evolution of the sponge aggregation factor gene family Molecular Biology and Evolution , 34, (5), 1083-1099

Although discriminating self from nonself is a cardinal animal trait, metazoan allorecognition genes do not appear to be homologous. Here, we characterize the Aggregation Factor (AF) gene family, which encodes putative allorecognition factors in the demosponge Amphimedon queenslandica, and trace its evolution across 24 sponge (Porifera) species. The AF locus in Amphimedon is comprised of a cluster of five similar genes that encode Calx-beta and Von Willebrand domains and a newly defined Wreath domain, and are highly polymorphic. Further AF variance appears to be generated through individualistic patterns of RNA editing. The AF gene family varies between poriferans, with protein sequences and domains diagnostic of the AF family being present in Amphimedon and other demosponges, but absent from other sponge classes. Within the demosponges, AFs vary widely with no two species having the same AF repertoire or domain organization. The evolution of AFs suggests that their diversification occurs via high allelism, and the continual and rapid gain, loss and shuffling of domains over evolutionary time. Given the marked differences in metazoan allorecognition genes, we propose the rapid evolution of AFs in sponges provides a model for understanding the extensive diversification of self-nonself recognition systems in the animal kingdom.

JTD Keywords: Aggregation factor, Allorecognition, Intron phase, Polymorphism, Porifera, RNA editing


Villar-Pique, A., De Groot, N. S., Sabaté, R., Acebrón, S. P., Celaya, G., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Muga, A., Ventura, S., (2012). The effect of amyloidogenic peptides on bacterial aging correlates with their intrinsic aggregation propensity Journal of Molecular Biology , 421, (2-3), 270-281

The formation of aggregates by misfolded proteins is thought to be inherently toxic, affecting cell fitness. This observation has led to the suggestion that selection against protein aggregation might be a major constraint on protein evolution. The precise fitness cost associated with protein aggregation has been traditionally difficult to evaluate. Moreover, it is not known if the detrimental effect of aggregates on cell physiology is generic or depends on the specific structural features of the protein deposit. In bacteria, the accumulation of intracellular protein aggregates reduces cell reproductive ability, promoting cellular aging. Here, we exploit the cell division defects promoted by the intracellular aggregation of Alzheimer's-disease-related amyloid β peptide in bacteria to demonstrate that the fitness cost associated with protein misfolding and aggregation is connected to the protein sequence, which controls both the in vivo aggregation rates and the conformational properties of the aggregates. We also show that the deleterious impact of protein aggregation on bacterial division can be buffered by molecular chaperones, likely broadening the sequential space on which natural selection can act. Overall, the results in the present work have potential implications for the evolution of proteins and provide a robust system to experimentally model and quantify the impact of protein aggregation on cell fitness.

JTD Keywords: Amyloid fibrils, Chaperones, Escherichia coli, Inclusion bodies, Protein aggregation


Sabaté, R., Espargaró, A., de Groot, N. S., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Ventura, S., (2010). The role of protein sequence and amino acid composition in amyloid formation: Scrambling and backward reading of IAPP amyloid fibrils Journal of Molecular Biology , 404, (2), 337-352

The specific functional structure of natural proteins is determined by the way in which amino acids are sequentially connected in the polypeptide. The tight sequence/structure relationship governing protein folding does not seem to apply to amyloid fibril formation because many proteins without any sequence relationship have been shown to assemble into very similar β-sheet-enriched structures. Here, we have characterized the aggregation kinetics, seeding ability, morphology, conformation, stability, and toxicity of amyloid fibrils formed by a 20-residue domain of the islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP), as well as of a backward and scrambled version of this peptide. The three IAPP peptides readily aggregate into ordered, β-sheet-enriched, amyloid-like fibrils. However, the mechanism of formation and the structural and functional properties of aggregates formed from these three peptides are different in such a way that they do not cross-seed each other despite sharing a common amino acid composition. The results confirm that, as for globular proteins, highly specific polypeptide sequential traits govern the assembly pathway, final fine structure, and cytotoxic properties of amyloid conformations.

JTD Keywords: Amyloid formation, Islet amyloid polypeptide, Protein aggregation, Protein sequence, Retro proteins


Carulla, N., Zhou, M., Arimon, M., Gairi, M., Giralt, E., Robinson, C. V., Dobson, C. M., (2009). Experimental characterization of disordered and ordered aggregates populated during the process of amyloid fibril formation Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106, (19), 7828-7833

Recent experimental evidence points to intermediates populated during the process of amyloid fibril formation as the toxic moieties primarily responsible for the development of increasingly common disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and type II diabetes. We describe here the application of a pulse-labeling hydrogendeuterium (HD) exchange strategy monitored by mass spectrometry (MS) and NMR spectroscopy (NMR) to characterize the aggregation process of an SH3 domain under 2 different conditions, both of which ultimately lead to well-defined amyloid fibrils. Under one condition, the intermediates appear to be largely amorphous in nature, whereas under the other condition protofibrillar species are clearly evident. Under the conditions favoring amorphous-like intermediates, only species having no protection against HD exchange can be detected in addition to the mature fibrils that show a high degree of protection. By contrast, under the conditions favoring protofibrillar-like intermediates, MS reveals that multiple species are present with different degrees of HD exchange protection, indicating that aggregation occurs initially through relatively disordered species that subsequently evolve to form ordered aggregates that eventually lead to amyloid fibrils. Further analysis using NMR provides residue-specific information on the structural reorganizations that take place during aggregation, as well as on the time scales by which they occur.

JTD Keywords: Aggregation, HD exchange, Misfolding intermediates, PI3-SH3


Morell, M., Bravo, R., Espargaro, A., Sisquella, X., Aviles, F. X., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Ventura, S., (2008). Inclusion bodies: Specificity in their aggregation process and amyloid-like structure Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research , 1783, (10), 1815-1825

The accumulation of aggregated protein in the cell is associated with the pathology of many diseases and constitutes a major concern in protein production. Intracellular aggregates have been traditionally regarded as nonspecific associations of misfolded polypeptides. This view is challenged by studies demonstrating that, in vitro, aggregation often involves specific interactions. However, little is known about the specificity of in vivo protein deposition. Here, we investigate the degree of in vivo co-aggregation between two self-aggregating proteins, A beta A2 amyloid peptide and foot-and-mouth disease virus VP1 capsid protein, in prokaryotic cells. In addition, the ultrastructure of intracellular aggregates is explored to decipher whether amyloid fibrils and intracellular protein inclusions share structural properties. The data indicate that in vivo protein aggregation exhibits a remarkable specificity that depends on the establishment of selective interactions and results in the formation of oligomeric and fibrillar structures displaying amyloid-like properties. These features allow prokaryotic A beta A2 intracellular aggregates to act as effective seeds in the formation of A beta A2 amyloid fibrils. overall, our results suggest that conserved mechanisms underlie protein aggregation in different organisms. They also have important implications for biotechnological and biomedical applications of recombinant polypeptides.

JTD Keywords: Protein aggregation, Inclusion bodies, Conformational diseases, Amyloid fibrils, Protein folding


Olmedo, Ivonne, Araya, Eyleen, Sanz, Fausto, Medina, Elias, Arbiol, Jordi, Toledo, Pedro, Àlvarez-Lueje, Alejandro, Giralt, Ernest, Kogan, Marcelo J., (2008). How changes in the sequence of the peptide CLPFFD-NH2 can modify the conjugation and stability of gold nanoparticles and their affinity for beta-amyloid fibrils Bioconjugate Chemistry , 19, (6), 1154-1163

In a previous work, we studied the interaction of β-amyloid fibrils (Aβ) with gold nanoparticles (AuNP) conjugated with the peptide CLPFFD-NH2. Here, we studied the effect of changing the residue sequence of the peptide CLPFFD-NH2 on the efficiency of conjugation to AuNP, the stability of the conjugates, and the affinity of the conjugates to the Aβ fibrils. We conjugated the AuNP with CLPFFD-NH2 isomeric peptides (CDLPFF-NH2 and CLPDFF-NH2) and characterized the resulting conjugates with different techniques including UV−Vis, TEM, EELS, XPS, analysis of amino acids, agarose gel electrophoresis, and CD. In addition, we determined the proportion of AuNP bonded to the Aβ fibrils by ICP-MS. AuNP-CLPFFD-NH2 was the most stable of the conjugates and presented more affinity for Aβ fibrils with respect to the other conjugates and bare AuNP. These findings help to better understand the way peptide sequences affect conjugation and stability of AuNP and their interaction with Aβ fibrils. The peptide sequence, the steric effects, and the charge and disposition of hydrophilic and hydrophobic residues are crucial parameters when considering the design of AuNP peptide conjugates for biomedical applications.

JTD Keywords: Self-assembled monolayers, Aggregation, Dispersions, Adsorption, Particles, Design, Size


Arimon, M., Grimminger, V., Sanz, F., Lashuel, H. A., (2008). Hsp104 targets multiple intermediates on the amyloid pathway and suppresses the seeding capacity of A beta fibrils and protofibrils Journal of Molecular Biology , 384, (5), 1157-1173

The heat shock protein Hsp104 has been reported to possess the ability to. modulate protein aggregation and toxicity and to "catalyze" the disaggregation and recovery of protein aggregates, including amyloid fibrils, in yeast, Escherichia coli, mammalian cell cultures, and animal models of Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. To provide mechanistic insight into the molecular mechanisms by which Hsp104 modulates aggregation and fibrillogenesis, the effect of Hsp104 on the fibrillogenesis of amyloid beta (A(3) was investigated by characterizing its ability to interfere with oligomerization and fibrillogenesis of different species along the amyloid-formation pathway of A beta. To probe the disaggregation activity of Hsp104, its ability to dissociate preformed protofibrillar and fibrillar aggregates of A beta was assessed in the presence and in the absence of ATP. Our results show that Hsp104 inhibits the fibrillization of monomeric and protofibrillar forms of A beta in a concentration-dependent but ATP-independent manner. Inhibition of A beta fibrillization by Hsp104 is observable up to Hsp104/A beta stoichiometric ratios of 1:1000, suggesting a preferential interaction of Hsp104 with aggregation intermediates (e.g., oligomers, protofibrils, small fibrils) on the pathway of A beta amyloid formation. This hypothesis is consistent with our observations that Hsp104 (i) interacts with A beta protofibrils, (ii) inhibits conversion of protofibrils into amyloid fibrils, (iii) arrests fibril elongation and reassembly, and (iv) abolishes the capacity of protofibrils and sonicated fibrils to seed the fibrillization of monomeric A beta. Together, these findings suggest that the strong inhibition of A beta fibrillization by Hsp104 is mediated by its ability to act at different stages and target multiple intermediates on the pathway to amyloid formation.

JTD Keywords: Amyloid formation A beta, Hsp104, Disaggregation, Alzheimer's diseases