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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Feb 22;134(7):3439-44. doi: 10.1021/ja209829m. Epub 2012 Feb 9.

Mechanisms of protein oligomerization: inhibitor of functional amyloids templates α-synuclein fibrillation.

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Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biological Center, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden.


Small organic molecules that inhibit functional bacterial amyloid fibers, curli, are promising new antibiotics. Here we investigated the mechanism by which the ring-fused 2-pyridone FN075 inhibits fibrillation of the curli protein CsgA. Using a variety of biophysical techniques, we found that FN075 promotes CsgA to form off-pathway, non-amyloidogenic oligomeric species. In light of the generic properties of amyloids, we tested whether FN075 would also affect the fibrillation reaction of human α-synuclein, an amyloid-forming protein involved in Parkinson's disease. Surprisingly, FN075 stimulates α-synuclein amyloid fiber formation as measured by thioflavin T emission, electron microscopy (EM), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). NMR data on (15)N-labeled α-synuclein show that upon FN075 addition, α-synuclein oligomers with 7 nm radius form in which the C-terminal 40 residues remain disordered and solvent exposed. The polypeptides in these oligomers contain β-like secondary structure, and the oligomers are detectable by AFM, EM, and size-exclusion chromatography (SEC). Taken together, FN075 triggers oligomer formation of both proteins: in the case of CsgA, the oligomers do not proceed to fibers, whereas for α-synuclein, the oligomers are poised to rapidly form fibers. We conclude that there is a fine balance between small-molecule inhibition and templation that depends on protein chemistry.

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