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Biochemistry. 2012 Oct 16;51(41):8125-31. doi: 10.1021/bi300839u. Epub 2012 Oct 2.

GM1 cluster mediates formation of toxic Aβ fibrils by providing hydrophobic environments.

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Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyoto University, 46-29 Yoshida-Shimoadachi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.


The conversion of soluble, nontoxic amyloid β-proteins (Aβ) to aggregated, toxic forms rich in β-sheets is considered to be a key step in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Accumulating evidence suggests that lipid-protein interactions play a crucial role in the aggregation of amyloidogenic proteins like Aβ. Our group has previously reported that amyloid fibrils of Aβ formed on membranes containing clusters of GM1 ganglioside (M-fibrils) exhibit greater cytotoxicity than fibrils formed in aqueous solution (W-fibrils) [ Okada ( 2008 ) J. Mol. Biol. 382 , 1066 - 1074 ]. W-fibrils are considered to consist of in-register parallel β-sheets. However, the precise molecular structure of M-fibrils and force driving the formation of toxic fibrils remain unclear. In this study, we hypothesized that low-polarity environments provided by GM1 clusters drive the formation of toxic fibrils and compared the structure and cytotoxicity of W-fibrils, M-fibrils, and aggregates formed in a low-polarity solution mimicking membrane environments. First, we determined solvent conditions which mimic the polarity of raftlike membranes using Aβ-(1-40) labeled with the 7-diethylaminocoumarin-3-carbonyl dye. The polarity of a mixture of 80% 1,4-dioxane and 20% water (v/v) was found to be close to that of raftlike membranes. Aβ-(1-40) formed amyloid fibrils within several hours in 80% dioxane (D-fibrils) or in the presence of raftlike membranes, whereas a much longer incubation time was required for fibril formation in a conventional buffer. D-fibrils were morphologically similar to M-fibrils. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy suggested that M-fibrils and D-fibrils contained antiparallel β-sheets. These fibrils had greater surface hydrophobicity and exhibited significant toxicity against human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, whereas W-fibrils with less surface hydrophobicity were not cytotoxic. We concluded that ganglioside clusters mediate the formation of toxic amyloid fibrils of Aβ with an antiparallel β-sheet structure by providing less polar environments.

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