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Biochemistry. 2008 Feb 26;47(8):2650-60. doi: 10.1021/bi701968g. Epub 2008 Jan 23.

Amyloid nucleation triggered by agitation of beta2-microglobulin under acidic and neutral pH conditions.

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  • 1Institute for Protein Research, Osaka University and CREST, Japan Science and Technology Agency, Yamadaoka 3-2, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


Amyloid nucleation through agitation was studied with beta2-microglobulin, which is responsible for dialysis-related amyloidosis, in the presence of salt under acid and neutral pH conditions. First, the aggregation of beta2-microglobulin in NaCl solutions was achieved by mildly agitating for 24 h at 37 degrees C protein solutions in three different states: acid-unfolded, salt-induced protofibrillar, and native. The formation of aggregates was confirmed by an increase in light scattering intensity of the solutions. Then, the aggregated samples were incubated without agitation at 37 degrees C for up to 25-45 days. The structural changes in the aggregated state during the incubation period were examined by means of fluorescence spectroscopy with thioflavin T, circular dichroism spectroscopy, and electron microscopy. The results revealed that all the samples in the different states produced a mature amyloid nucleus upon agitation, after which the fibrils elongated without any detectable lag phase during the incubation, with the acid-unfolded protein better suited to undergoing the structural rearrangements necessary to form amyloid fibrils than the more structured forms. The amount of aggregate including the amyloid nucleus produced by agitation from the native conformation at neutral pH was estimated to be about 9% of all the protein by an analysis using ultracentrifugation. Additionally, amyloid nucleation by agitation was similarly achieved for a different protein, hen egg-white lysozyme, in 0.5 M NaCl solution at neutral pH. Taken together, the agitation-treated aggregates of both proteins have a high propensity to produce an amyloid nucleus even at neutral pH, providing evidence that the aggregation pathway involves amyloid nucleation under entirely native conditions.

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