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Protein Sci. 2010 Jan;19(1):47-56. doi: 10.1002/pro.281.

The Hofmeister effect on amyloid formation using yeast prion protein.

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  • 1School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0363, USA.


A variety of proteins are capable of converting from their soluble forms into highly ordered fibrous cross-beta aggregates (amyloids). This conversion is associated with certain pathological conditions in mammals, such as Alzheimer disease, and provides a basis for the infectious or hereditary protein isoforms (prions), causing neurodegenerative disorders in mammals and controlling heritable phenotypes in yeast. The N-proximal region of the yeast prion protein Sup35 (Sup35NM) is frequently used as a model system for amyloid conversion studies in vitro. Traditionally, amyloids are recognized by their ability to bind Congo Red dye specific to beta-sheet rich structures. However, methods for quantifying amyloid fibril formation thus far were based on measurements linking Congo Red absorbance to concentration of insulin fibrils and may not be directly applicable to other amyloid-forming proteins. Here, we present a corrected formula for measuring amyloid formation of Sup35NM by Congo Red assay. By utilizing this corrected procedure, we explore the effect of different sodium salts on the lag time and maximum rate of amyloid formation by Sup35NM. We find that increased kosmotropicity promotes amyloid polymerization in accordance with the Hofmeister series. In contrast, chaotropes inhibit polymerization, with the strength of inhibition correlating with the B-viscosity coefficient of the Jones-Dole equation, an increasingly accepted measure for the quantification of the Hofmeister series.

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