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J Biol Chem. 2011 Sep 16;286(37):32036-44. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.242958. Epub 2011 Jul 27.

Toward the discovery of effective polycyclic inhibitors of alpha-synuclein amyloid assembly.

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  • 1Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Suipacha 531, S2002LRK Rosario, Argentina.


The fibrillation of amyloidogenic proteins is a critical step in the etiology of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. There is major interest in the therapeutic intervention on such aberrant aggregation phenomena, and the utilization of polyaromatic scaffolds has lately received considerable attention. In this regard, the molecular and structural basis of the anti-amyloidogenicity of polyaromatic compounds, required to evolve this molecular scaffold toward therapeutic drugs, is not known in detail. We present here biophysical and biochemical studies that have enabled us to characterize the interaction of metal-substituted, tetrasulfonated phthalocyanines (PcTS) with α-synuclein (AS), the major protein component of amyloid-like deposits in Parkinson disease. The inhibitory activity of the assayed compounds on AS amyloid fibril formation decreases in the order PcTS[Ni(II)] ~ PcTS > PcTS[Zn(II)] >> PcTS[Al(III)] ≈ 0. Using NMR and electronic absorption spectroscopies we demonstrated conclusively that the differences in binding capacity and anti-amyloid activity of phthalocyanines on AS are attributed to their relative ability to self-stack through π-π interactions, modulated by the nature of the metal ion bound at the molecule. Low order stacked aggregates of phthalocyanines were identified as the active amyloid inhibitory species, whose effects are mediated by residue specific interactions. Such sequence-specific anti-amyloid behavior of self-stacked phthalocyanines contrasts strongly with promiscuous amyloid inhibitors with self-association capabilities that act via nonspecific sequestration of AS molecules. The new findings reported here constitute an important contribution for future drug discovery efforts targeting amyloid formation.

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