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Biasing the native α-synuclein conformational ensemble towards compact states abolishes aggregation and neurotoxicity

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tiago OuteiroORCiD


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© 2019 The Authors The aggregation of α-synuclein (α-syn) into amyloid fibrils is a major pathological hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD) and other synucleinopathies. The mechanisms underlying the structural transition of soluble and innocuous α-syn to aggregated neurotoxic forms remains largely unknown. The disordered nature of α-syn has hampered the use of structure-based protein engineering approaches to elucidate the molecular determinants of this transition. The recent 3D structure of a pathogenic α-syn fibril provides a template for this kind of studies. The structure supports the NAC domain being a critical element in fibril formation, since it constitutes the core of the fibril, delineating a Greek-key motif. Here, we stapled the ends of this motif with a designed disulfide bond and evaluated its impact on the conformation, aggregation and toxicity of α-syn in different environments. The new covalent link biases the native structural ensemble of α-syn toward compact conformations, reducing the population of fully unfolded species. This conformational bias results in a strongly reduced fibril formation propensity both in the absence and in the presence of lipids and impedes the formation of neurotoxic oligomers. Our study does not support the Greek-key motif being already imprinted in early α-syn assemblies, discarding it as a druggable interface to prevent the initiation of fibrillation. In contrast, it suggests the stabilization of native, compact ensembles as a potential therapeutic strategy to avoid the formation of toxic species and to target the early stages of PD.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Carija A, Pinheiro F, Pujols J, Bras IC, Lazaro DF, Santambrogio C, Grandori R, Outeiro TF, Navarro S, Ventura S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Redox Biology

Year: 2019

Volume: 22

Online publication date: 05/02/2019

Acceptance date: 04/02/2019

ISSN (print): 2213-2317

Publisher: Elsevier B.V.


DOI: 10.1016/j.redox.2019.101135


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