SOD1 Aggregation Relevance of thermodynamic stability
Sammanfattning: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the upper and lower motor neurons causing muscle atrophy and paralysis followed by death. Aggregates containing superoxide dismutase (SOD1) are found as pathological hallmark in diseased ALS patients. Consequently ALS is regarded as a protein misfolding disorder like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. So far, little is known about the cause and mechanism behind SOD1 aggregation but the inherent property of all polypeptide chains to form stable aggregated structures indicates that the protein misfolding diseases share a common mechanism.Our results show that SOD1 aggregation starts from the globally unfolded state, since fibrillation is fastest at full occupancy of denatured protein induced either by chemical denaturation or mutation. Even so, the fibrillation rate shows a surprisingly weak dependence on the concentration of globally unfolded SOD1 indicating fibril fragmentation as the dominant mechanism for aggregate formation. This is further supported by the observation that the SOD1 sample has to be mechanically agitated for fibrillation to occur. Interestingly, we observe a similar SOD1 aggregation behaviour in vivo, where the survival times of ALS transgenic mice correlates with mutant stability, and aggregate growth depends weekly on the concentration of unfolded monomer. Additionally, in-cell NMR measurements reveal that in live cells the thermodynamic equilibrium is shifted towards the unfolded state of SOD1, which is also more fully extended than in vitro. This suggests that the globally unfolded aggregation competent protein is more abundant in the crowded environment in vivo than dilute in vitro conditions. Finally, antibody analysis of aggregates from ALS transgenic mice reveals the existence of aggregate strains involving different parts of the protein depending on mutation, which may offer an explanation for the various disease phenotypes observed in ALS. Altogether these findings provide important clues for understanding SOD1 aggregation with implications for ALS, as well as other protein misfolding diseases.
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