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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Mar 16;96(6):3108-13.

Exposure of cryptic epitopes on transthyretin only in amyloid and in amyloidogenic mutants.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Umeå University, S-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.


The structural requirements for generation of amyloid from the plasma protein transthyretin (TTR) are not known, although it is assumed that TTR is partly misfolded in amyloid. In a search for structural determinants important for amyloid formation, we generated a TTR mutant with high potential to form amyloid. We demonstrated that the mutant represents an intermediate in a series of conformational changes leading to amyloid. Two monoclonal antibodies were generated against this mutant; each displayed affinity to ex vivo TTR and TTR mutants with amyloidogenic folding but not to wild-type TTR or mutants exhibiting the wild-type fold. Two cryptic epitopes were mapped to a domain of TTR, where most mutations associated with amyloidosis occur and which we propose is displaced at the initial phase of amyloid formation, opening up new surfaces necessary for autoaggregation of TTR monomers. The results provide direct biochemical evidence for structural changes in an amyloidogenic intermediate of TTR.

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