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Biochemistry. 2011 Dec 20;50(50):10876-86. doi: 10.1021/bi2014745. Epub 2011 Nov 29.

Secondary nucleating sequences affect kinetics and thermodynamics of tau aggregation.

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Department of Chemistry, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas 75080, United States.


Tau protein was scanned for highly amyloidogenic sequences in amphiphilic motifs (X)(n)Z, Z(X)(n)Z (n ≥ 2), or (XZ)(n) (n ≥ 2), where X is a hydrophobic residue and Z is a charged or polar residue. N-Acetyl peptides homologous to these sequences were used to study aggregation. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) showed seven peptides, in addition to well-known primary nucleating sequences Ac(275)VQIINK (AcPHF6*) and Ac(306)VQIVYK (AcPHF6), formed fibers, tubes, ribbons, or rolled sheets. Of the peptides shown by TEM to form amyloid, Ac(10)VME, AcPHF6*, Ac(375)KLTFR, and Ac(393)VYK were found to enhance the fraction of β-structure of AcPHF6 formed at equilibrium, and Ac(375)KLTFR was found to inhibit AcPHF6 and AcPHF6* aggregation kinetics in a dose-dependent manner, consistent with its participation in a hybrid steric zipper model. Single site mutants were generated which transformed predicted amyloidogenic sequences in tau into non-amyloidogenic ones. A M11K mutant had fewer filaments and showed a decrease in aggregation kinetics and an increased lag time compared to wild-type tau, while a F378K mutant showed significantly more filaments. Our results infer that sequences throughout tau, in addition to PHF6 and PHF6*, can seed amyloid formation or affect aggregation kinetics or thermodynamics.

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