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J Am Chem Soc. 2008 Jun 25;130(25):7873-81. doi: 10.1021/ja075356q. Epub 2008 May 30.

Design of an N-methylated peptide inhibitor of alpha-synuclein aggregation guided by solid-state NMR.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 7ZB, United Kingdom.


Many neurodegenerative diseases are associated with the aggregation of misfolded proteins into amyloid oligomers or fibrils that are deposited as pathological lesions within areas of the brain. An attractive therapeutic strategy for preventing or ameliorating amyloid formation is to identify agents that inhibit the onset or propagation of protein aggregation. Here we demonstrate how solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (ssNMR) may be used to identify key residues within amyloidogenic protein sequences that may be targeted to inhibit the aggregation of the host protein. For alpha-synuclein, the major protein component of Lewy bodies associated with Parkinson's disease, we have used a combination of ssNMR and biochemical data to identify the key region for self-aggregation of the protein as residues 77-82 (VAQKTV). We used our new structural information to design a peptide derived from residues 77 to 82 of alpha-synuclein with an N-methyl group at the C-terminal residue, which was able to disrupt the aggregation of alpha-synuclein. Thus, we have shown how structural data obtained from ssNMR can guide the design of modified peptides for use as amyloid inhibitors, as a primary step toward developing therapeutic compounds for prevention and/or treatment of amyloid diseases.

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