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J Mol Biol. 1992 Jun 20;225(4):1075-93.

Solution conformations and aggregational properties of synthetic amyloid beta-peptides of Alzheimer's disease. Analysis of circular dichroism spectra.

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Suntory Institute for Bioorganic Research, Osaka, Japan.


The A4 or beta-peptide (39 to 43 amino acid residues) is the principal proteinaceous component of amyloid deposits in Alzheimer's disease. Using circular dichroism (c.d.), we have studied the secondary structures and aggregational properties in solution of 4 synthetic amyloid beta-peptides: beta-(1-28), beta-(1-39), beta-(1-42) and beta-(29-42). The natural components of cerebrovascular deposits and extracellular amyloid plaques are beta-(1-39) and beta-(1-42), while beta-(1-28) and beta-(29-42) are unnatural fragments. The beta-(1-28), beta-(1-39) and beta-(1-42) peptides adopt mixtures of beta-sheet, alpha-helix and random coil structures, with the relative proportions of each secondary structure being strongly dependent upon the solution conditions. In aqueous solution, beta-sheet structure is favored for the beta-(1-39) and beta-(1-42) peptides, while in aqueous solution containing trifluoroethanol (TFE) or hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP), alpha-helical structure is favored for all 3 peptides. The alpha-helical structure unfolds with increasing temperature and is favored at pH 1 to 4 and pH 7 to 10; the beta-sheet conformation is temperature insensitive and is favored at pH 4 to 7. Peptide concentration studies showed that the beta-sheet conformation is oligomeric (intermolecular), whereas the alpha-helical conformation is monomeric (intramolecular). The rate of aggregation to the oligomeric beta-sheet structure (alpha-helix----random coil----beta-sheet) is also dependent upon the solution conditions such as the pH and peptide concentration; maximum beta-sheet formation occurs at pH 5.4. These results suggest that beta-peptide is not an intrinsically insoluble peptide. Thus, solution abnormalities, together with localized high peptide concentrations, which may occur in Alzheimer's disease, may contribute to the formation of amyloid plaques. The hydrophobic beta-(29-42) peptide adopts exclusively an intermolecular beta-sheet conformation in aqueous solution despite changes in temperature or pH. Therefore, this segment may be the first region of the beta-peptide to aggregate and may direct the folding of the complete beta-peptide to produce the beta-pleated sheet structure found in amyloid deposits. Differences between the solution conformations of the beta-(1-39) and beta-(1-42) peptides suggests that the last 3 C-terminal amino acids are crucial to amyloid deposition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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