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Biochemistry. 2017 Mar 21;56(11):1632-1644. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.6b01120. Epub 2017 Mar 13.

Heparin and Methionine Oxidation Promote the Formation of Apolipoprotein A-I Amyloid Comprising α-Helical and β-Sheet Structures.

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Department of Chemistry, Lancaster University , Lancaster LA1 4YB, United Kingdom.
Diamond Light Source Ltd. , Diamond House, Harwell Science & Innovation Campus, Didcot OX11 0DE, Oxon, England.
Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool , Liverpool, United Kingdom.


Peptides derived from apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), the main component of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), constitute the main component of amyloid deposits that colocalize with atherosclerotic plaques. Here we investigate the molecular details of full-length, lipid-deprived apoA-I after assembly into insoluble aggregates under physiologically relevant conditions known to induce aggregation in vitro. Unmodified apoA-I is shown to remain soluble at pH 7 for at least 3 days, retaining its native α-helical-rich structure. Upon acidification to pH 4, apoA-I rapidly assembles into insoluble nonfibrillar aggregates lacking the characteristic cross-β features of amyloid. In the presence of heparin, the rate and thioflavin T responsiveness of the aggregates formed at pH 4 increase and short amyloid-like fibrils are observed, which give rise to amyloid-characteristic X-ray reflections at 4.7 and 10 Å. Solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (SSNMR) and synchrotron radiation circular dichroism spectroscopy of fibrils formed in the presence of heparin show they retain some α-helical characteristics together with new β-sheet structures. Interestingly, SSNMR indicates a similar molecular structure of aggregates formed in the absence of heparin at pH 6 after oxidation of the three methionine residues, although their morphology is rather different from that of the heparin-derived fibrils. We propose a model for apoA-I aggregation in which perturbations of a four-helix bundle-like structure, induced by interactions of heparin or methionine oxidation, cause the partially helical N-terminal residues to disengage from the remaining, intact helices, thereby allowing self-assembly via β-strand associations.

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