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J Biol Chem. 2012 Mar 16;287(12):9193-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.325548. Epub 2012 Jan 20.

Curcumin prevents aggregation in α-synuclein by increasing reconfiguration rate.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


α-Synuclein is a protein that is intrinsically disordered in vitro and prone to aggregation, particularly at high temperatures. In this work, we examined the ability of curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, to prevent aggregation of the protein. We found strong binding of curcumin to α-synuclein in the hydrophobic non-amyloid-β component region and complete inhibition of oligomers or fibrils. We also found that the reconfiguration rate within the unfolded protein was significantly increased at high temperatures. We conclude that α-synuclein is prone to aggregation because its reconfiguration rate is slow enough to expose hydrophobic residues on the same time scale that bimolecular association occurs. Curcumin rescues the protein from aggregation by increasing the reconfiguration rate into a faster regime.

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