bims-proned Biomed News
on Proteostasis in neurodegeneration
Issue of 2023‒09‒10
seventeen papers selected by
Verena Kohler

  1. Res Sq. 2023 Aug 22. pii: [Epub ahead of print]
      Parkinson disease (PD) is closely linked to the misfolding and accumulation of α-synuclein (α-syn) into Lewy bodies. HtrA1 is a PDZ serine protease that degrades fibrillar tau, which is associated with Alzheimer disease (AD). Further, inactivating mutations to mitochondrial HtrA2 have been implicated in PD. Here, we establish that HtrA1 inhibits the aggregation of α-syn as well as FUS and TDP-43, which are implicated in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). We demonstrate that the protease domain of HtrA1 is necessary and sufficient for inhibition of aggregation, yet this activity is independent of HtrA1 proteolytic activity. Further, we find that HtrA1 also disaggregates preformed α-syn fibrils, which may promote their clearance. Treatment of α-syn fibrils with HtrA1 renders α-syn incapable of seeding the aggregation of endogenous α-syn in mammalian biosensor cells. We find that HtrA1 remodels α-syn by specifically targeting the NAC domain, which is the key domain that catalyzes α-syn oligomerization and fibrillization. Finally, in a primary neuron model of α-syn aggregation, we show that HtrA1 and its proteolytically inactive form both detoxify α-syn and prevent the formation of hyperphosphorylated α-syn accumulations. Our findings suggest that HtrA1 prevents aggregation and promotes disaggregation of multiple disease-associated proteins, and may be a therapeutic target for treating a range of neurodegenerative disorders.
  2. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2023 Aug 28. 28(8): 183
      Similar to other polypeptides and electrolytes, proteins undergo phase transitions, obeying physicochemical laws. They can undergo liquid-to-gel and liquid-to-liquid phase transitions. Intrinsically disordered proteins are particularly susceptible to phase separation. After a general introduction, the principles of in vitro studies of protein folding, aggregation, and condensation are described. Numerous recent and older studies have confirmed that the process of liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) leads to various condensed bodies in cells, which is one way cells manage stress. We review what is known about protein aggregation and condensation in the cell, notwithstanding the protective and pathological roles of protein aggregates. This includes membrane-less organelles and cytotoxicity of the prefibrillar oligomers of amyloid-forming proteins. We then describe and evaluate bioinformatic (in silico) methods for predicting protein aggregation-prone regions of proteins that form amyloids, prions, and condensates.
    Keywords:  LLPS; amyloid; intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs); membrane-less organelles; neurodegeneration; prediction by in silico methods; prion; protein aggregation; protein condensation
  3. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Aug 29. pii: 13370. [Epub ahead of print]24(17):
      A proteostasis network represents a sophisticated cellular system that controls the whole process which leads to properly folded functional proteins. The imbalance of proteostasis determines a quantitative increase in misfolded proteins prone to aggregation and elicits the onset of different diseases. Among these, Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a progressive brain disorder characterized by motor and non-motor signs. In PD pathogenesis, alpha-Synuclein (α-Syn) loses its native structure, triggering a polymerization cascade that leads to the formation of toxic inclusions, the PD hallmark. Because molecular chaperones represent a "cellular arsenal" to counteract protein misfolding and aggregation, the modulation of their expression represents a compelling PD therapeutic strategy. This review will discuss evidence concerning the effects of natural and synthetic small molecules in counteracting α-Syn aggregation process and related toxicity, in different in vitro and in vivo PD models. Firstly, the role of small molecules that modulate the function(s) of chaperones will be highlighted. Then, attention will be paid to small molecules that interfere with different steps of the protein-aggregation process. This overview would stimulate in-depth research on already-known small molecules or the development of new ones, with the aim of developing drugs that are able to modify the progression of the disease.
    Keywords:  Parkinson’s disease; molecular chaperones; proteostasis; small molecules; α-Synuclein
  4. Methods Mol Biol. 2024 ;2707 257-264
      Proteins containing intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) control a wide variety of cellular processes by assembly of membrane-less organelles via IDR-mediated liquid-liquid phase separation. Dysregulated IDR-mediated phase transition has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diseases characterized by deposition of abnormal protein aggregates. Here, we describe a method to enhance interactions between the IDRs of the RNA/DNA-binding protein and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) by light to drive its phase transition in the motor neurons of zebrafish. The optically controlled TDP-43 phase transition in motor neurons, in vivo, provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the impact of dysregulated TDP-43 phase transition on the physiology of motor neurons. This will help to address the etiology of neurodegenerative diseases associated with abnormal TDP-43 phase transition and aggregation, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
    Keywords:  ALS; CRY2; IDR; LLPS; Membrane-less organelles; Optogenetics; Phase transition; TDP-43; Zebrafish
  5. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Aug 28. pii: 13310. [Epub ahead of print]24(17):
      Amyloid aggregates are diverse proteinaceous assemblies, including one or more protein species, wherein the molecules interact according to characteristic patterns [...].
  6. Autophagy Rep. 2023 ;pii: 2236407. [Epub ahead of print]2(1):
      Protein misfolding, aggregation, and accumulation cause neurodegenerative disorders. One such disorder, Huntington's disease, is caused by an increased number of glutamine-encoding trinucleotide repeats CAG in the first exon of the huntingtin (HTT) gene. Mutant proteins of Htt exon 1 with polyglutamine expansion are prone to aggregation and form pathological inclusion bodies in neurons. Extensive studies have shown that misfolded proteins are cleared by the ubiquitin-proteasome system or autophagy to alleviate their cytotoxicity. Misfolded proteins can form small soluble aggregates or large insoluble inclusion bodies. Previous works have elucidated the role of autophagy in the clearance of misfolded protein aggregates, but autophagic clearance of inclusion bodies remains poorly characterized. Here we use mutant Htt exon 1 with 103 polyglutamine (Htt103QP) as a model substrate to study the autophagic clearance of inclusion bodies in budding yeast. We found that the core autophagy-related proteins were required for Htt103QP inclusion body autophagy. Moreover, our evidence indicates that the autophagy of Htt103QP inclusion bodies is selective. Interestingly, Cue5/Tollip, a known autophagy receptor for aggrephagy, is dispensable for this inclusion body autophagy. From the known selective autophagy receptors in budding yeast, we identified three that are essential for inclusion body autophagy. Amyloid beta peptide (Aβ42) is a major component of amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer's disease brains. Interestingly, a similar selective autophagy pathway contributes to the clearance of Aβ42 inclusion bodies in budding yeast. Therefore, our results reveal a novel autophagic pathway specific for inclusion bodies associated with neurodegenerative diseases, which we have termed IBophagy.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Aβ42; IBophagy; inclusion body; mutant Huntingtin
  7. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Aug 29. pii: 13403. [Epub ahead of print]24(17):
      The aggregation and amyloid formation of α-synuclein is associated with Parkinson's disease and other synucleinopathies. In its native, monomeric form α-synuclein is an intrinsically disordered protein represented by highly dynamic conformational ensembles. Inhibition of α-synuclein aggregation using small molecules, peptides, or proteins has been at the center of interest in recent years. Our aim was to explore the effects of cross-linking on the structure and aggregation/amyloid formation properties of α-synuclein. Comparative analysis of available high-resolution amyloid structures and representative structural models and MD trajectory of monomeric α-synuclein revealed that potential cross-links in the monomeric protein are mostly incompatible with the amyloid forms and thus might inhibit fibrillation. Monomeric α-synuclein has been intramolecularly chemically cross-linked under various conditions using different cross-linkers. We determined the location of cross-links and their frequency using mass spectrometry and found that most of them cannot be realized in the amyloid structures. The inhibitory potential of cross-linked proteins has been experimentally investigated using various methods, including thioflavin-T fluorescence and transmission electron microscopy. We found that conformational constraints applied by cross-linking fully blocked α-synuclein amyloid formation. Moreover, DTSSP-cross-linked molecules exhibited an inhibitory effect on the aggregation of unmodified α-synuclein as well.
    Keywords:  MD simulations; amyloidogenic proteins; cross-linking mass spectrometry; inhibition of amyloid formation; intrinsically disordered proteins
  8. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Aug 26. pii: 13270. [Epub ahead of print]24(17):
      The alteration and aggregation of alpha-synuclein (α-syn) play a crucial role in neurodegenerative diseases collectively termed as synucleinopathies, including Parkinson's disease (PD). The bidirectional interaction of α-syn with lipids and biomembranes impacts not only α-syn aggregation but also lipid homeostasis. Indeed, lipid composition and metabolism are severely perturbed in PD. One explanation for lipid-associated alterations may involve structural changes in α-syn, caused, for example, by missense mutations in the lipid-binding region of α-syn as well as post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation, acetylation, nitration, ubiquitination, truncation, glycosylation, and glycation. Notably, different strategies targeting the α-syn-lipid interaction have been identified and are able to reduce α-syn pathology. These approaches include the modulation of post-translational modifications aiming to reduce the aggregation of α-syn and modify its binding properties to lipid membranes. Furthermore, targeting enzymes involved in various steps of lipid metabolism and exploring the neuroprotective potential of lipids themselves have emerged as novel therapeutic approaches. Taken together, this review focuses on the bidirectional crosstalk of α-syn and lipids and how alterations of this interaction affect PD and thereby open a window for therapeutic interventions.
    Keywords:  Parkinson’s disease; lipids; post-translational modification; α-synuclein
  9. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Aug 26. pii: 13243. [Epub ahead of print]24(17):
      This review postulates that age-related neurodegeneration entails inappropriate activation of intrinsic pathways to enable brain plasticity through deregulated calcium (Ca2+) signalling. Ca2+ in the cytosol comprises a versatile signal controlling neuronal cell physiology to accommodate adaptive structural and functional changes of neuronal networks (neuronal plasticity) and, as such, is essential for brain function. Although disease risk factors selectively affect different neuronal cell types across age-related neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs), these appear to have in common the ability to impair the specificity of the Ca2+ signal. As a result, non-specific Ca2+ signalling facilitates the development of intraneuronal pathophysiology shared by age-related NDDs, including mitochondrial dysfunction, elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, impaired proteostasis, and decreased axonal transport, leading to even more Ca2+ dyshomeostasis. These core pathophysiological processes and elevated cytosolic Ca2+ levels comprise a self-enforcing feedforward cycle inevitably spiralling toward high levels of cytosolic Ca2+. The resultant elevated cytosolic Ca2+ levels ultimately gear otherwise physiological effector pathways underlying plasticity toward neuronal demise. Ageing impacts mitochondrial function indiscriminately of the neuronal cell type and, therefore, contributes to the feedforward cycle of pathophysiology development seen in all age-related NDDs. From this perspective, therapeutic interventions to safely restore Ca2+ homeostasis would mitigate the excessive activation of neuronal destruction pathways and, therefore, are expected to have promising neuroprotective potential.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; age-related neurodegeneration; calcium dyshomeostasis
  10. Biophys Rev. 2023 Aug;15(4): 577-589
      Prion diseases are prototype of infectious diseases transmitted by a protein, the prion protein (PrP), and are still not understandable at the molecular level. Heterogenous species of aggregated PrP can be generated from its monomer. α-synuclein (αSyn), related to Parkinson's disease, has also shown a prion-like pathogenic character, and likewise PrP interacts with nucleic acids (NAs), which in turn modulate their aggregation. Recently, our group and others have characterized that NAs and/or RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) modulate recombinant PrP and/or αSyn condensates formation, and uncontrolled condensation might precede pathological aggregation. Tackling abnormal phase separation of neurodegenerative disease-related proteins has been proposed as a promising therapeutic target. Therefore, understanding the mechanism by which polyanions, like NAs, modulate phase transitions intracellularly, is key to assess their role on toxicity promotion and neuronal death. Herein we discuss data on the nucleic acids binding properties and phase separation ability of PrP and αSyn with a special focus on their modulation by NAs and RBPs. Furthermore, we provide insights into condensation of PrP and/or αSyn in the light of non-trivial subcellular locations such as the nuclear and cytosolic environments.
    Keywords:  Aggregation; Nucleic acids; Phase separation; Prion protein; RNA-binding proteins; α-synuclein
  11. Sci Rep. 2023 Sep 02. 13(1): 14471
      The formation of protein aggregates is a hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases and systemic amyloidoses. These disorders are associated with the fibrillation of a variety of proteins/peptides, which ultimately leads to cell toxicity and tissue damage. Understanding how amyloid aggregation occurs and developing compounds that impair this process is a major challenge in the health science community. Here, we demonstrate that pathogenic proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, AL/AA amyloidosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis can aggregate within stress-inducible physiological amyloid-based structures, termed amyloid bodies (A-bodies). Using a limited collection of small molecule inhibitors, we found that diclofenac could repress amyloid aggregation of the β-amyloid (1-42) in a cellular setting, despite having no effect in the classic Thioflavin T (ThT) in vitro fibrillation assay. Mapping the mechanism of the diclofenac-mediated repression indicated that dysregulation of cyclooxygenases and the prostaglandin synthesis pathway was potentially responsible for this effect. Together, this work suggests that the A-body machinery may be linked to a subset of pathological amyloidosis, and highlights the utility of this model system in the identification of new small molecules that could treat these debilitating diseases.
  12. Cell Death Dis. 2023 09 06. 14(9): 594
      Parkinson's disease (PD) is pathologically manifested by the aggregation of α-synuclein, which has been envisioned as a promising disease-modifying target for PD. Here, we identified 20C, a bibenzyl compound derived from Gastrodia elata, able to inhibit the aggregation of A53T variants of α-synuclein directly in vitro. Computational analysis revealed that 20C binds to cavities in mature α-synuclein fibrils, and it indeed displays a strong interaction with α-synuclein and reduced their β-sheet structure by microscale thermophoresis and circular dichroism, respectively. Moreover, incubating neural cells with 20C reduced the amounts of α-synuclein inclusions significantly. The treatment of A53T α-Syn transgenic mice with 20C significantly reduces the toxic α-synuclein levels, improves behavioral performance, rescues dopaminergic neuron, and enhances functional connections between SNc and PD associated brain areas. The transcriptome analysis of SNc demonstrated that 20C improves mitochondrial dynamics, which protects mitochondrial morphology and function against α-synuclein induced degeneration. Overall, 20C appears to be a promising candidate for the treatment of PD.
  13. Sens Actuators Rep. 2023 Dec;pii: 100170. [Epub ahead of print]6
      Aggregation of amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) is hypothesized to be the primary cause of Alzheimer's disease (AD) progression. Aβ aggregation has been widely studied using conventional sensing tools like emission fluorescence, electron microscopy, mass spectroscopy, and circular dichroism. However, none of these techniques can provide cost-efficient, highly sensitive quantification of Aβ aggregation kinetics at the molecular level. Among the influences on Aβ aggregation of interest to disease progression is the acceleration of Aβ aggregation by acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which is present in the brain and inflicts the fast progression of disease due to its direct interaction with Aβ. In this work, we demonstrate the ability of a biological nanopore to map and quantify AChE accelerated aggregation of Aβ monomers to mixed oligomers and small soluble aggregates with single-molecule precision. This method will allow future work on testing direct and indirect effects of therapeutic drugs on AChE accelerated Aβ aggregation as well as disease prognosis.
    Keywords:  Acetylcholinesterase; Aβ aggregation; Nanopore
  14. RSC Adv. 2023 Sep 04. 13(38): 26344-26356
      Leading pathological markers of Alzheimer's disease (AD) include Acetylcholinesterase (AChE), Butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE), Amyloid beta (Aβ) and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Indole derivatives were identified and optimized to improve the potency against AChE, BuChE, Aβ and ROS. The lead molecule IND-30 was found to be selective for AChE (selectivity ratio: 22.92) in comparison to BuChE and showed maximum inhibition potential for human AChE (IC50: 4.16 ± 0.063 μM). IND-30 was found to be safe on the SH-SY5Y cell line until the dose of 30 mM. Further, molecule IND-30 was evaluated for its ability to inhibit AChE-induced Aβ aggregation at 0.5, 10 and 20 μM doses. Approximately, 50% of AChE-induced Aβ aggregation was inhibited by IND-30. Thus, IND-30 was found to be multitargeting for AD.
  15. Commun Chem. 2023 Sep 05. 6(1): 186
      ALS-causing C71G-hPFN1 coexists in both folded and unfolded states, while nascent hSOD1 is unfolded. So far, the mechanisms underlying their ALS-triggering potential remain enigmatic. Here we show by NMR that ATP completely converts C71G-hPFN1 into the folded state at a 1:2 ratio, while inducing nascent hSOD1 into two co-existing states at a 1:8 ratio. Surprisingly, the inducing capacity of ATP comes from its triphosphate, but free triphosphate triggers aggregation. The inducing capacity ranks as: ATP = ATPP = PPP > ADP = AMP-PNP = AMP-PCP = PP, while AMP, adenosine, P, and NaCl show no conversion. Mechanistically, ATP and triphosphate appear to enhance the intrinsic folding capacity encoded in the sequences, as unveiled by comparing conformations and dynamics of ATP- and Zn2+-induced hSOD1 folded states. Our study provides a mechanism for the finding that some single-cell organisms employ polyphosphates as primordial chaperones, and sheds light on the enigma of age-related onset of familial ALS and risk increase of neurodegenerative diseases.
  16. Structure. 2023 Sep 07. pii: S0969-2126(23)00280-0. [Epub ahead of print]31(9): 1005-1007
      Post-translational modifications profoundly influence amyloid assembly. In this issue of Structure, Li et al. unravel the underlying mechanism by which specific lysine acetylation patterns facilitate fibril formation of Tau segments. Their cryo-electron microscopy structure further elucidates how acetyl groups act as stabilizers within the architecture of Tau fibrils.
  17. Inflammopharmacology. 2023 Sep 04.
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an age-dependent neurodegenerative disease hallmarked by Amyloid-β (Aβ) aggregation, cognitive impairment, and neuronal and synaptic loss. In this study, AD was induced in male Wistar rats (n = 6) by the administration of intracerebroventricular-streptozotocin (ICV-STZ-3 mg/kg/day), and Voglibose (Vog) was administered at various doses (10, 25, and 50 mg/kg), while Galantamine (3 mg/kg) acted as a reference standard drug. Behavioral alterations in both spatial and non-spatial memory functions were evaluated in the experimental rats. At the end of the study, all experimental rats were sacrificed, and their brain parts, the cortex and hippocampus, were subjected to biochemical, western blot, and histopathological analysis. In our study results, the statistically significant dose-dependent results from the behavioral tests show the Voglibose-treated groups significantly improved (p < 0.0001) spatial and non-spatial memory functions when compared with ICV-STZ-treated group. Meanwhile, when compared with ICV-STZ-treated rats, treatment with Voglibose (10, 25, and 50 mg/kg) showed the activities of both acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and malondialdehyde (MDA) were significantly attenuated (p < 0.0001), while the operation of antioxidant enzymes was considerably enhanced (p < 0.0001). The molecular estimation showed that it significantly attenuates (p < 0.0001) the TNF-α, IL-1β, and CRP activity, and the western blot results demonstrate the significantly attenuated Aβ aggregation. The histopathological results showed that the Voglibose treatment had an effective improvement in clear cytoplasm and healthy neuronal cells. In conclusion, our results suggest that Voglibose has potent neuroprotective effects against the ICV-STZ-induced AD model. Furthermore, these results support the possibility of Voglibose as a therapeutic approach to improving cognitive function, suggesting that controlling Aβ aggregation might be a novel target for the development of AD.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; Aβ aggregation; Oxidative stress; Streptozotocin; Voglibose