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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Nov 8;91(23):11232-5.

The solubilization of model Alzheimer tangles: reversing the beta-sheet conformation induced by aluminum with silicates.

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Graduate Department of Biochemistry, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02254.


Neurofibrillary tangles are one of two lesions found in the brain of Alzheimer disease victims. With synthetic peptide fragments of human neurofilament NF-M17 (Glu-Glu-Lys-Gly-Lys-Ser-Pro- Val-Pro-Lys-Ser-Pro-Val-Glu-Glu-Lys-Gly, phosphorylated and unphosphorylated), CD studies were done to examine the effect of sodium orthosilicate on the conformational state produced by Al3+ on fragments of neuronal proteins. Previous studies had shown a conformational transition from alpha-helix and random to beta-pleated sheet upon addition of Al3+ to both phosphorylated and unphosphorylated peptides. If sufficient quantities of Al3+ are added, the peptide precipitates from solution. The ability to reverse or slow the progression of aggregation was examined. Al3+ binding was reversed with 1-2 molar equivalents of sodium orthosilicate (with respect to Al3+), altering the conformation from beta-sheet to random coil and resulting in a CD spectrum similar to that of the initial peptide. The tight binding of the SiO4(4-) with the Al3+ provides the mechanism for this transition. These results provide additional information toward understanding the role of aluminum in the Alzheimer diseased brain and suggest the investigation of the possible use of silicates as a therapeutic agent.

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