bims-proned Biomed News
on Proteostasis in neurodegeneration
Issue of 2024‒01‒21
nine papers selected by
Verena Kohler, Umeå University

  1. ACS Omega. 2024 Jan 09. 9(1): 1216-1229
      Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, affecting the elderly population worldwide. In PD, the misfolding of α-synuclein (α-syn) results in the formation of inclusions referred to as Lewy bodies (LB) in midbrain neurons of the substantia nigra and other specific brain localizations, which is associated with neurodegeneration. There are no approved strategies to reduce the formation of LB in the neurons of patients with PD. Our drug discovery program focuses on the synthesis of urea and thiourea compounds coupled with aminoindole moieties to abrogate α-syn aggregation and to slow down the progression of PD. We synthesized several urea and thiourea analogues with a central 1,4-phenyl diurea/thiourea linkage and evaluated their effectiveness in reducing α-syn aggregation with a special focus on the selective inhibition of oligomer formation among other proteins. We utilized biophysical methods such as thioflavin T (ThT) fluorescence assays, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), photoinduced cross-linking of unmodified proteins (PICUP), as well as M17D intracellular inclusion cell-based assays to evaluate the antiaggregation properties and cellular protection of our best compounds. Our results identified compound 1 as the best compound in reducing α-syn fibril formation via ThT assays. The antioligomer formation of compound 1 was subsequently superseded by compound 2. Both compounds selectively curtailed the oligomer formation of α-syn but not tau 4R isoforms (0N4R, 2N4R) or p-tau (isoform 1N4R). Compounds 1 and 2 failed to abrogate tau 0N3R fibril formation by ThT and atomic force microscopy. Compound 2 was best at reducing the formation of recombinant α-syn fibrils by TEM. In contrast to compound 2, compound 1 reduced the formation of α-syn inclusions in M17D neuroblastoma cells in a dose-dependent manner. Compound 1 may provide molecular scaffolds for the optimization of symmetric molecules for its α-syn antiaggregation activity with potential therapeutic applications and development of small molecules in PD.
  2. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2024 Jan 12. pii: S0960-894X(24)00020-9. [Epub ahead of print]99 129618
      This study focuses on the discovery of new potential drugs for treating PD by targeting the aggregation of α-Syn. A series of hybrids combining Coumarin and phenolic acid were designed and synthesized. Four particularly promising compounds were identified, showing strong inhibitory effects with IC50 values ranging from low micromolar to submicromolar concentrations, as low as 0.63 μM. These compounds exhibited a higher binding affinity to α-Syn residues and effectively hindered the entire aggregation process, maintaining the proteostasis conformation of α-Syn and preventing the formation of β-sheet aggregates. This approach holds significant promise for PD prevention. Additionally, these candidate compounds demonstrated the ability to break down preformed α-Syn oligomers and fibrils, resulting in the formation of smaller aggregates and monomers. Moreover, the candidate compounds showed impressive effectiveness in inhibiting α-Syn aggregation within nerve cells, thereby reducing the likelihood of α-Syn inclusion formation resembling Lewy bodies, which highlights their potential for treating PD.
    Keywords:  Coumarin-polyphenolic acid hybrids; Disaggregation; Inhibition of inclusion formation; Mechanism; α-Synuclein aggregation inhibitor
  3. Mol Neurodegener. 2024 Jan 16. 19(1): 5
      Protein misfolding and accumulation defines a prevailing feature of many neurodegenerative disorders, finally resulting in the formation of toxic intra- and extracellular aggregates. Intracellular aggregates can enter the extracellular space and be subsequently transferred among different cell types, thus spreading between connected brain districts.Although microglia perform a predominant role in the removal of extracellular aggregated proteins, mounting evidence suggests that astrocytes actively contribute to the clearing process. However, the molecular mechanisms used by astrocytes to remove misfolded proteins are still largely unknown.Here we first provide a brief overview of the progressive transition from soluble monomers to insoluble fibrils that characterizes amyloid proteins, referring to α-Synuclein and Tau as archetypical examples. We then highlight the mechanisms at the basis of astrocyte-mediated clearance with a focus on their potential ability to recognize, collect, internalize and digest extracellular protein aggregates. Finally, we explore the potential of targeting astrocyte-mediated clearance as a future therapeutic approach for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by protein misfolding and accumulation.
    Keywords:  Amyloid proteins; Astrocytes; Clearance; Tau; α-Synuclein
  4. Open Biol. 2024 Jan;14(1): 230285
      The 14-3-3 proteins are a highly conserved adaptor protein family with multi-layer functions, abundantly expressed in the brain. The 14-3-3 proteins modulate phosphorylation, regulate enzymatic activity and can act as chaperones. Most importantly, they play an important role in various neurodegenerative disorders due to their vast interaction partners. Particularly, the 14-3-3ζ isoform is known to co-localize in aggregation tangles in both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases as a result of protein-protein interactions. These abnormal clumps consist of amyloid fibrils, insoluble aggregates, mainly formed by the amyloid-β, tau and α-synuclein proteins. However, the molecular basis of if and how 14-3-3ζ can aggregate into amyloid fibrils is unknown. In this study, we describe the formation of amyloid fibrils by 14-3-3ζ using a comprehensive approach that combines bioinformatic tools, amyloid-specific dye binding, secondary structure analysis and atomic force microscopy. The results presented herein characterize the amyloidogenic properties of 14-3-3ζ and imply that the well-folded protein undergoes aggregation to β-sheet-rich amyloid fibrils.
    Keywords:  14-3-3ζ; amyloid; fibrils; α-synuclein
  5. Neural Regen Res. 2024 Sep 01. 19(9): 1973-1980
      Parkinson's disease is a common neurodegenerative disorder that is associated with abnormal aggregation and accumulation of neurotoxic proteins, including α-synuclein, amyloid-β, and tau, in addition to the impaired elimination of these neurotoxic protein. Atypical parkinsonism, which has the same clinical presentation and neuropathology as Parkinson's disease, expands the disease landscape within the continuum of Parkinson's disease and related disorders. The glymphatic system is a waste clearance system in the brain, which is responsible for eliminating the neurotoxic proteins from the interstitial fluid. Impairment of the glymphatic system has been proposed as a significant contributor to the development and progression of neurodegenerative disease, as it exacerbates the aggregation of neurotoxic proteins and deteriorates neuronal damage. Therefore, impairment of the glymphatic system could be considered as the final common pathway to neurodegeneration. Previous evidence has provided initial insights into the potential effect of the impaired glymphatic system on Parkinson's disease and related disorders; however, many unanswered questions remain. This review aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the growing literature on the glymphatic system in Parkinson's disease and related disorders. The focus of this review is on identifying the manifestations and mechanisms of interplay between the glymphatic system and neurotoxic proteins, including loss of polarization of aquaporin-4 in astrocytic endfeet, sleep and circadian rhythms, neuroinflammation, astrogliosis, and gliosis. This review further delves into the underlying pathophysiology of the glymphatic system in Parkinson's disease and related disorders, and the potential implications of targeting the glymphatic system as a novel and promising therapeutic strategy.
  6. J Hazard Mater. 2024 Jan 12. pii: S0304-3894(24)00097-9. [Epub ahead of print]465 133518
      Nanoplastics, widely existing in the environment and organisms, have been proven to cross the blood-brain barrier, increasing the incidence of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, current studies mainly focus on the neurotoxicity of nanoplastics themselves, neglecting their synergistic effects with other biomolecules and the resulting neurotoxicity. Amyloid β peptide (Aβ), which triggers neurotoxicity through its self-aggregation, is the paramount pathogenic protein in AD. Here, employing polystyrene nanoparticles (PS) as a model for nanoplastics, we reveal that 100 pM PS nanoparticles significantly accelerate the nucleation rate of two Aβ subtypes (Aβ40 and Aβ42) at low concentrations, promoting the formation of more Aβ oligomers and leading to evident neurotoxicity. The hydrophobic surface of PS facilitates the interaction of hydrophobic fragments between Aβ monomers, responsible for the augmented neurotoxicity. This work provides consequential insights into the modulatory impact of low-dose PS on Aβ aggregation and the ensuing neurotoxicity, presenting a valuable foundation for future research on the intricate interplay between environmental toxins and brain diseases.
    Keywords:  Aggregation; Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid β peptide; Nanoplastics; Neurotoxicity
  7. Chembiochem. 2024 Jan 19. e202300748
      Understanding α-synuclein aggregation is crucial in the context of Parkinson's disease. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of aggregation induced by preformed seeding on the volume of oligomers during the early stages, using a label-free, single-molecule characterization approach. By utilizing nanopipettes of varying sizes, the volume of the oligomers can be calculated from the amplitude of the current blockade and pipette geometry. Further investigation of the aggregates formed over time in the presence of added seeds revealed an acceleration in the formation of large aggregates and the existence of multiple distinct populations of oligomers. Additionally, we observed that spontaneously formed seeds inhibited the formation of smaller oligomers, in contrast to the effect of HNE seeds. These results suggest that the seeds play a crucial role in the formation of oligomers and their sizes during the early stages of aggregation, whereas the classical thioflavin T assay remains negative.
    Keywords:  nanopipette, alpha-synculein, single molecule, seeding
  8. Alzheimers Res Ther. 2024 Jan 18. 16(1): 13
      BACKGROUND: Amyloid-β42 (Aβ42) aggregation consists of a complex chain of nucleation events producing soluble oligomeric intermediates, which are considered the major neurotoxic agents in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Cerebral lesions in the brain of AD patients start to develop 20 years before symptom onset; however, no preventive strategies, effective treatments, or specific and sensitive diagnostic tests to identify people with early-stage AD are currently available. In addition, the isolation and characterisation of neurotoxic Aβ42 oligomers are particularly difficult because of their transient and heterogeneous nature. To overcome this challenge, a rationally designed method generated a single-domain antibody (sdAb), named DesAb-O, targeting Aβ42 oligomers.METHODS: We investigated the ability of DesAb-O to selectively detect preformed Aβ42 oligomers both in vitro and in cultured neuronal cells, by using dot-blot, ELISA immunoassay and super-resolution STED microscopy, and to counteract the toxicity induced by the oligomers, monitoring their interaction with neuronal membrane and the resulting mitochondrial impairment. We then applied this approach to CSF samples (CSFs) from AD patients as compared to age-matched control subjects.
    RESULTS: DesAb-O was found to selectively detect synthetic Aβ42 oligomers both in vitro and in cultured cells, and to neutralise their associated neuronal dysfunction. DesAb-O can also identify Aβ42 oligomers present in the CSFs of AD patients with respect to healthy individuals, and completely prevent cell dysfunction induced by the administration of CSFs to neuronal cells.
    CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, our data indicate a promising method for the improvement of an early diagnosis of AD and for the generation of novel therapeutic approaches based on sdAbs for the treatment of AD and other devastating neurodegenerative conditions.
    Keywords:  Amyloid β peptide; Aβ42-targeting therapy; Biofluids; Conformation-sensitive antibodies; Early diagnosis; Nanobodies; Neurodegenerative diseases; Protein misfolding
  9. J Am Chem Soc. 2024 Jan 18.
      Amyloid aggregation is a key feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and a primary target for past and present therapeutic efforts. Recent research is making it increasingly clear that the heterogeneity of amyloid deposits, extending past the commonly targeted amyloid-β (Aβ), must be considered for successful therapy. We recently demonstrated that amyloid-α (Aα or p3), a C-terminal peptidic fragment of Aβ, aggregates rapidly to form amyloids and can expedite the aggregation of Aβ through seeding. Here, we advance the understanding of Aα biophysics and biology in several important ways. We report the first cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of an Aα amyloid fibril, proving unambiguously that the peptide is fibrillogenic. We demonstrate that Aα induces Aβ to form amyloid aggregates that are less toxic than pure Aβ aggregates and use nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) to provide insights into specific interactions between Aα and Aβ in solution. This is the first evidence that Aα can coassemble with Aβ and alter its biological effects at relatively low concentrations. Based on the above, we urge researchers in the field to re-examine the significance of Aα in AD.