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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2011 Dec;84(6 Pt 1):061904. Epub 2011 Dec 6.

Time-resolved small-angle x-ray scattering study of the early stage of amyloid formation of an apomyoglobin mutant.

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  • 1Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Marche Polytechnic University and CNISM, Ancona, Italy.


The description of the fibrillogenesis pathway and the identification of "on-pathway" or "off-pathway" intermediates are key issues in amyloid research as they are concerned with the mechanism for onset of certain diseases and with therapeutic treatments. Recent results on the fibril formation process revealed an unexpected complexity both in the number and in the types of species involved, but the early aggregation events are still largely unknown, mainly because of their experimental inaccessibility. To provide information on the early stage events of self-assembly of an amyloidogenic protein, during the so-called lag phase, stopped-flow time-resolved small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) experiments were performed. Using a global fitting analysis, the structural and aggregation properties of the apomyoglobin W7FW14F mutant, which is monomeric and partly folded at acidic pH but forms amyloid fibrils after neutralization, were derived from the first few milliseconds onward. SAXS data indicated that the first aggregates appear in less than 20 ms after the pH jump to neutrality and further revealed the simultaneous presence of diverse species. In particular, worm-like unstructured monomers, very large assemblies, and elongated particles were detected, and their structural features and relative concentrations were derived as a function of time on the basis of our model. The final results show that, during the lag phase, early assembling occurs due to the presence of transient monomeric species very prone to association and through successive competing aggregation and rearrangement processes leading to coexisting on-pathway and off-pathway transient species.

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