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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Sep;1774(9):1128-38. Epub 2007 Jul 6.

Aggregation and fibrillation of bovine serum albumin.

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Centre for Insoluble Protein Structures (inSPIN) at Department of Life Sciences, Aalborg University, Sohngaardsholmsvej 49, DK-9000 Aalborg, Denmark.


The all-alpha helix multi-domain protein bovine serum albumin (BSA) aggregates at elevated temperatures. Here we show that these thermal aggregates have amyloid properties. They bind the fibril-specific dyes Thioflavin T and Congo Red, show elongated although somewhat worm-like morphology and characteristic amyloid X-ray fiber diffraction peaks. Fibrillation occurs over minutes to hours without a lag phase, is independent of seeding and shows only moderate concentration dependence, suggesting intramolecular aggregation nuclei. Nevertheless, multi-exponential increases in dye-binding signal and changes in morphology suggest the existence of different aggregate species. Although beta-sheet content increases from 0 to ca. 40% upon aggregation, the aggregates retain significant amounts of alpha-helix structure, and lack a protease-resistant core. Thus BSA is able to form well-ordered beta-sheet rich aggregates which nevertheless do not possess the same structural rigidity as classical fibrils. The aggregates do not permeabilize synthetic membranes and are not cytotoxic. The ease with which a multidomain all-alpha helix protein can form higher-order beta-sheet structure, while retaining significant amounts of alpha-helix, highlights the universality of the fibrillation mechanism. However, the presence of non-beta-sheet structure may influence the final fibrillar structure and could be a key component in aggregated BSA's lack of cytotoxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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