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Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2012 May-Jun;47(3):282-96. doi: 10.3109/10409238.2012.661401. Epub 2012 Feb 24.

Gelsolin amyloidosis: genetics, biochemistry, pathology and possible strategies for therapeutic intervention.

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Departments of Chemistry and Molecular and Experimental Medicine, The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, La Jolla, CA, USA.


Protein misassembly into aggregate structures, including cross-β-sheet amyloid fibrils, is linked to diseases characterized by the degeneration of post-mitotic tissue. While amyloid fibril deposition in the extracellular space certainly disrupts cellular and tissue architecture late in the course of amyloid diseases, strong genetic, pathological and pharmacologic evidence suggests that the process of amyloid fibril formation itself, known as amyloidogenesis, likely causes these maladies. It seems that the formation of oligomeric aggregates during the amyloidogenesis process causes the proteotoxicity and cytotoxicity characteristic of these disorders. Herein, we review what is known about the genetics, biochemistry and pathology of familial amyloidosis of Finnish type (FAF) or gelsolin amyloidosis. Briefly, autosomal dominant D187N or D187Y mutations compromise Ca(2+) binding in domain 2 of gelsolin, allowing domain 2 to sample unfolded conformations. When domain 2 is unfolded, gelsolin is subject to aberrant furin endoproteolysis as it passes through the Golgi on its way to the extracellular space. The resulting C-terminal 68 kDa fragment (C68) is susceptible to extracellular endoproteolytic events, possibly mediated by a matrix metalloprotease, affording 8 and 5 kDa amyloidogenic fragments of gelsolin. These amyloidogenic fragments deposit systemically, causing a variety of symptoms including corneal lattice dystrophy and neurodegeneration. The first murine model of the disease recapitulates the aberrant processing of mutant plasma gelsolin, amyloid deposition, and the degenerative phenotype. We use what we have learned from our biochemical studies, as well as insight from mouse and human pathology to propose therapeutic strategies that may halt the progression of FAF.

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