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Nat Commun. 2013;4:2416. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3416.

Amyloid-β nanotubes are associated with prion protein-dependent synaptotoxicity.

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Medical Research Council Prion Unit and Department of Neurodegenerative Disease, UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK.


Growing evidence suggests water-soluble, non-fibrillar forms of amyloid-β protein (Aβ) have important roles in Alzheimer's disease with toxicities mimicked by synthetic Aβ(1-42). However, no defined toxic structures acting via specific receptors have been identified and roles of proposed receptors, such as prion protein (PrP), remain controversial. Here we quantify binding to PrP of Aβ(1-42) after different durations of aggregation. We show PrP-binding and PrP-dependent inhibition of long-term potentiation (LTP) correlate with the presence of protofibrils. Globular oligomers bind less avidly to PrP and do not inhibit LTP, whereas fibrils inhibit LTP in a PrP-independent manner. That only certain transient Aβ assemblies cause PrP-dependent toxicity explains conflicting reports regarding the involvement of PrP in Aβ-induced impairments. We show that these protofibrils contain a defined nanotubular structure with a previously unidentified triple helical conformation. Blocking the formation of Aβ nanotubes or their interaction with PrP might have a role in treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

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