bims-proned Biomed News
on Proteostasis in neurodegeneration
Issue of 2024‒03‒31
twenty-six papers selected by
Verena Kohler, Umeå University

  1. Biomedicines. 2024 Mar 08. pii: 611. [Epub ahead of print]12(3):
      The antihistamine astemizole has shown disease-modifying effects in several preclinical disease models of Parkinson's disease (PD). Astemizole also interacts with an anomalous aggregation of Alzheimer's disease-related amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide and has inhibitory activity on the human prion protein PrPSc. We hypothesized that the proposed preclinical benefits of astemizole on PD can be associated with the attenuation of pathological α-synuclein (α-syn) aggregation. We tested the effects of astemizole on the fibrillation processes of amyloid peptides using thioflavin T aggregation monitoring, Congo red spectral analysis, cell viability study, and transmission electron microscopic imaging. We found that astemizole did not inhibit α-syn aggregation in vitro even at a high molar ratio but inhibited the assembly of Aβ aggregates. Our results suggest that the inhibitory effect of astemizole on amyloid formation is target-protein selective, and the proposed beneficial effects of this compound observed in translational PD models might not be due to its ameliorating effects on α-syn aggregation.
    Keywords:  Parkinson’s disease; amyloid; astemizole; synuclein
  2. Biochem Biophys Rep. 2024 Jul;38 101687
      Aggregation of α-synuclein into oligomers and fibrils is associated with numerous neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease (PD). Although the identity of the pathogenic species formed during the aggregation process is still under active debate, mounting evidence suggests that small oligomeric species rather than fibrillar aggregates are real toxic species. Isolation and characterization of small oligomers is essential to developing therapeutic strategies to prevent oligomer formation. Preparation of misfolded oligomeric species for biophysical characterization is, however, a great challenge due to their heterogenous, transient nature. Here we report the preparation of toxic and non-toxic α-synuclein oligomeric species formed at different pH values in the presence of lipid vesicles that mimic mitochondria membranes containing cardiolipin. Biophysical characterization of the lipid-induced α-synuclein oligomeric assemblies revealed that α-synuclein oligomers formed at pH 7.4 have higher surface hydrophobicity than the aggregates formed at pH 6.0. In addition, the high-pH oligomers were shown to exhibit higher toxicity than the low-pH aggregates. Structural, dynamic properties of the oligomers were also investigated by using circular dichroism (CD) and NMR spectroscopy. Our CD analyses revealed that the two oligomeric species have distinct molecular conformations, and 2D 1H/15N HSQC NMR experiments suggested that the high-pH oligomers have more extended dynamic regions than the low-pH aggregates. The distinct structural and dynamic properties of the oligomers might be associated with their different cytotoxic properties.
    Keywords:  Cardiolipin; Lipid; Misfolding; NMR; Oligomer; α-synuclein
  3. Transl Neurodegener. 2024 Mar 26. 13(1): 16
      Proteinopathy, defined as the abnormal accumulation of proteins that eventually leads to cell death, is one of the most significant pathological features of neurodegenerative diseases. Tauopathies, represented by Alzheimer's disease (AD), and synucleinopathies, represented by Parkinson's disease (PD), show similarities in multiple aspects. AD manifests extrapyramidal symptoms while dementia is also a major sign of advanced PD. We and other researchers have sequentially shown the cross-seeding phenomenon of α-synuclein (α-syn) and tau, reinforcing pathologies between synucleinopathies and tauopathies. The highly overlapping clinical and pathological features imply shared pathogenic mechanisms between the two groups of disease. The diagnostic and therapeutic strategies seemingly appropriate for one distinct neurodegenerative disease may also apply to a broader spectrum. Therefore, a clear understanding of the overlaps and divergences between tauopathy and synucleinopathy is critical for unraveling the nature of the complicated associations among neurodegenerative diseases. In this review, we discuss the shared and diverse characteristics of tauopathies and synucleinopathies from aspects of genetic causes, clinical manifestations, pathological progression and potential common therapeutic approaches targeting the pathology, in the aim to provide a timely update for setting the scheme of disease classification and provide novel insights into the therapeutic development for neurodegenerative diseases.
    Keywords:  Neurodegeneration; Synucleinopathy; Tau; Tauopathy; α-Synuclein
  4. Nat Commun. 2024 Mar 27. 15(1): 2677
      α-Synuclein forms amyloid fibrils that are critical in the progression of Parkinson's disease and serves as the pathological hallmark of this condition. Different posttranslational modifications have been identified at multiple sites of α-synuclein, influencing its conformation, aggregation and function. Here, we investigate how disease-related phosphorylation and O-GlcNAcylation at the same α-synuclein site (S87) affect fibril structure and neuropathology. Using semi-synthesis, we obtained homogenous α-synuclein monomer with site-specific phosphorylation (pS87) and O-GlcNAcylation (gS87) at S87, respectively. Cryo-EM revealed that pS87 and gS87 α-synuclein form two distinct fibril structures. The GlcNAc situated at S87 establishes interactions with K80 and E61, inducing a unique iron-like fold with the GlcNAc molecule on the iron handle. Phosphorylation at the same site prevents a lengthy C-terminal region including residues 73 to 140 from incorporating into the fibril core due to electrostatic repulsion. Instead, the N-terminal half of the fibril (1-72) takes on an arch-like fibril structure. We further show that both pS87 and gS87 α-synuclein fibrils display reduced neurotoxicity and propagation activity compared with unmodified α-synuclein fibrils. Our findings demonstrate that different posttranslational modifications at the same site can produce distinct fibril structures, which emphasizes link between posttranslational modifications and amyloid fibril formation and pathology.
  5. Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Mar 15. pii: 3323. [Epub ahead of print]25(6):
      Research on GM1 ganglioside and its neuroprotective role in Parkinson's disease (PD), particularly in mitigating the aggregation of α-Synuclein (aSyn), is well established across various model organisms. This essential molecule, GM1, is intimately linked to preventing aSyn aggregation, and its deficiency is believed to play a key role in the initiation of PD. In our current study, we attempted to shed light on the cytosolic interactions between GM1 and aSyn based on previous reports demonstrating gangliosides and monomeric aSyn to be present in neuronal cytosol. Native-PAGE and Western blot analysis of neuronal cytosol from mouse brains demonstrated the presence of both GM1 and monomeric aSyn in the neuronal cytosol of normal mouse brain. To demonstrate that an adequate level of GM1 prevents the aggregation of aSyn, we used NG108-15 and SH-SY5Y cells with and without treatment of 1-phenyl-2-palmitoyl-3-morpholino-1-propanol (PPMP), which inhibits the synthesis/expression of GM1. Cells treated with PPMP to reduce GM1 expression showed a significant increase in the formation of aggregated aSyn compared to untreated cells. We thus demonstrated that sufficient GM1 prevents the aggregation of aSyn. For this to occur, aSyn and GM1 must show proximity within the neuron. The present study provides evidence for such co-localization in neuronal cytosol, which also facilitates the inverse interaction revealed in studies with the two cell types above. This adds to the explanation of how GM1 prevents the aggregation of aSyn and onset of Parkinson's disease.
    Keywords:  GM1; NG108-15; Parkinson’s disease; neurodegeneration; α-synuclein
  6. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2024 Mar 24. e202317756
      Hyperphosphorylation and aggregation of the protein tau play key roles in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). While the molecular structure of the filamentous tau aggregates has been determined to atomic resolution, there is far less information available about the smaller, soluble aggregates, which are believed to be more toxic. Traditional techniques are limited to bulk measures and struggle to identify individual aggregates in complex biological samples. To address this, we developed a novel single-molecule pull-down-based assay (MAPTau) to detect and characterize individual tau aggregates in AD and control post-mortem brain and biofluids. Using MAPTau, we report the quantity, as well as the size and circularity of tau aggregates measured using super-resolution microscopy, revealing AD-specific differences in tau aggregate morphology. By adapting MAPTau to detect multiple phosphorylation markers in individual aggregates using two-color coincidence detection, we derived compositional profiles of the individual aggregates. We find an AD specific phosphorylation profile of tau aggregates with more than 80% containing multiple phosphorylations, compared to 5% in age-matched non-AD controls. Our results show that MAPTau is able to identify disease-specific subpopulations of tau aggregates phosphorylated at different sites, that are invisible to other methods and enable the study of disease mechanisms and diagnosis.
    Keywords:  Neurodegenerative disease; Protein aggregation; fluorescence microscopy; proteins; single-molecule studies
  7. Genes (Basel). 2024 Feb 28. pii: 310. [Epub ahead of print]15(3):
      Neurodegenerative proteinopathies such as Alzheimer's Disease are characterized by abnormal protein aggregation and neurodegeneration. Neuroresilience or regenerative strategies to prevent neurodegeneration, preserve function, or restore lost neurons may have the potential to combat human proteinopathies; however, the adult human brain possesses a limited capacity to replace lost neurons. In contrast, axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) show robust brain regeneration. To determine whether axolotls may help identify potential neuroresilience or regenerative strategies in humans, we first interrogated whether axolotls express putative proteins homologous to human proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases. We compared the homology between human and axolotl proteins implicated in human proteinopathies and found that axolotls encode proteins highly similar to human microtubule-binding protein tau (tau), amyloid precursor protein (APP), and β-secretase 1 (BACE1), which are critically involved in human proteinopathies like Alzheimer's Disease. We then tested monoclonal Tau and BACE1 antibodies previously used in human and rodent neurodegenerative disease studies using immunohistochemistry and western blotting to validate the homology for these proteins. These studies suggest that axolotls may prove useful in studying the role of these proteins in disease within the context of neuroresilience and repair.
    Keywords:  axolotl; neurodegeneration; proteinopathy; proteins; regeneration
  8. Biophys Rev (Melville). 2024 Mar;5(1): 011303
      The formation of protein aggregates in the brain is a central aspect of the pathology of many neurodegenerative diseases. This self-assembly of specific proteins into filamentous aggregates, or fibrils, is a fundamental biophysical process that can easily be reproduced in the test tube. However, it has been difficult to obtain a clear picture of how the biophysical insights thus obtained can be applied to the complex, multi-factorial diseases and what this means for therapeutic strategies. While new, disease-modifying therapies are now emerging, for the most devastating disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, they still fall well short of offering a cure, and few drug design approaches fully exploit the wealth of mechanistic insights that has been obtained in biophysical studies. Here, I attempt to provide a new perspective on the role of protein aggregation in disease, by phrasing the problem in terms of a system that, under constant energy consumption, attempts to maintain a healthy, aggregate-free state against the thermodynamic driving forces that inexorably push it toward pathological aggregation.
  9. J Biol Chem. 2024 Mar 22. pii: S0021-9258(24)01702-2. [Epub ahead of print] 107207
      Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease of motor neurons. Neuronal superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) inclusion bodies are characteristic of familial ALS with SOD1 mutations, while a hallmark of sporadic ALS is inclusions containing aggregated wild-type TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43). We show here that co-expression of mutant or wild-type TDP-43 with SOD1 leads to misfolding of endogenous SOD1 and aggregation of SOD1 reporter protein SOD1G85R-GFP in human cell cultures, and promotes synergistic axonopathy in zebrafish. Intriguingly, this pathological interaction is modulated by natively solvent-exposed tryptophans in SOD1 (tryptophan-32) and TDP-43 RNA-recognition motif RRM1 (tryptophan-172), in concert with natively sequestered TDP-43 N-terminal domain tryptophan-68. TDP-43 RRM1 intrabodies reduce wild-type SOD1 misfolding in human cell cultures, via blocking tryptophan-172. Tryptophan-68 becomes antibody-accessible in aggregated TDP-43 in sporadic ALS motor neurons and cell culture. 5-fluorouridine inhibits TDP-43-induced G85R-GFP SOD1 aggregation in human cell cultures, and ameliorates axonopathy in zebrafish, via its interaction with SOD1 tryptophan-32. Collectively, our results establish a novel and potentially druggable tryptophan-mediated mechanism whereby two principal ALS disease effector proteins might directly interact in disease.
  10. Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2024 Mar 25.
      The presence of amyloid fibrils is a hallmark of several neurodegenerative diseases. Some amyloidogenic proteins, such as α-synuclein and amyloid β, interact with lipids, and this interaction can strongly favour the formation of amyloid fibrils. In particular the primary nucleation step, i.e. the de novo formation of amyloid fibrils, has been shown to be accelerated by lipids. However, the exact mechanism of this acceleration is still mostly unclear. Here we use a range of scattering methods, such as dynamic light scattering (DLS) and small angle X-ray and neutron scattering (SAXS and SANS) to obtain structural information on the binding of α-synuclein to model membranes formed from negatively charged lipids and their co-assembly into amyloid fibrils. We find that the model membranes take an active role in the reaction. The binding of α synuclein to the model membranes immediately induces a major structural change in the lipid assembly, which leads to a break-up into small and mostly disc- or rod-like lipid-protein particles. This transition can be reversed by temperature changes or proteolytic protein removal. Incubation of the small lipid-α-synuclein particles for several hours, however, leads to amyloid fibril formation, whereby the lipids are incorporated into the amyloid fibrils.
  11. Biomolecules. 2024 Feb 28. pii: 289. [Epub ahead of print]14(3):
      Today, neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) affect millions of people worldwide, and as the average human lifespan increases, similarly grows the number of patients. For many decades, cognitive and motoric decline has been explained by the very apparent deterioration of neurons in various regions of the brain and spinal cord. However, more recent studies show that disease progression is greatly influenced by the vast population of glial cells. Astrocytes are traditionally considered star-shaped cells on which neurons rely heavily for their optimal homeostasis and survival. Increasing amounts of evidence depict how astrocytes lose their supportive functions while simultaneously gaining toxic properties during neurodegeneration. Many of these changes are similar across various neurodegenerative diseases, and in this review, we highlight these commonalities. We discuss how astrocyte dysfunction drives neuronal demise across a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases, but rather than categorizing based on disease, we aim to provide an overview based on currently known mechanisms. As such, this review delivers a different perspective on the disease causes of neurodegeneration in the hope to encourage further cross-disease studies into shared disease mechanisms, which might ultimately disclose potentially common therapeutic entry points across a wide panel of neurodegenerative diseases.
    Keywords:  astrocyte; cell autonomous; cross-disease; neurodegeneration; non-cell autonomous; reactivity
  12. Antioxidants (Basel). 2024 Feb 21. pii: 261. [Epub ahead of print]13(3):
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. Given the link between oxidative stress and AD, many studies focus on the identification of natural antioxidants against AD. Although their antioxidant capacity is important, increasing data suggest that additional activities are related to their beneficial effects, including properties against amyloid beta (Aβ) aggregation. Sideritis spp. (mountain tea) extracts possess not only antioxidant activity but also other bioactivities that confer neuroprotection. Although various Sideritis spp. extracts have been extensively studied, there are scarce data on S. clandestina subsp. peloponnesiaca (SCP) phytochemical composition and neuroprotective potential, while nothing is known of the responsible compounds. Given that SCP is a weaker antioxidant compared to other Sideritis spp., here, we investigated its potential beneficial properties against Aβ aggregation. We characterized different SCP extracts and revealed their anti-aggregation activity by taking advantage of established C. elegans AD models. Importantly, we identified two pure compounds, namely, sideridiol and verbascoside, being responsible for the beneficial effects. Furthermore, we have revealed a potential anti-Aβ aggregation mechanism for sideridiol. Our results support the use of mountain tea in the elderly against dementia and demonstrate the activity of sideridiol against Aβ aggregation that could be exploited for drug development.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; Caenorhabditis elegans; Sideritis clandestina spp. peloponnesiaca; amyloid beta peptide; natural antioxidant products; protein aggregation; sideridiol; verbascoside
  13. ChemMedChem. 2024 Mar 25. e202300597
      Doxycycline, a semi-synthetic tetracycline, is a widely used antibiotic for treating mild-to-moderate infections, including skin problems. However, its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, combined with its ability to interfere with α-synuclein aggregation, make it an attractive candidate for repositioning in Parkinson's disease. Nevertheless, the antibiotic activity of doxycycline restricts its potential use for long-term treatment of Parkinsonian patients. In the search for non-antibiotic tetracyclines that could operate against Parkinson's disease pathomechanisms, eighteen novel doxycycline derivatives were designed. Specifically, the dimethyl-amino group at C4 was reduced, resulting in limited antimicrobial activity, and several coupling reactions were performed at position C9 of the aromatic D ring, this position being one of the most reactive for introducing substituents. Using the Thioflavin-T assay, we found seven compounds were more effective than doxycycline in inhibiting α-synuclein aggregation. Furthermore, two of these derivatives exhibited better anti-inflammatory effects than doxycycline in a culture system of microglial cells used to model Parkinson's disease neuroinflammatory processes. Overall, through structure-activity relationship studies, we identified two newly designed tetracyclines as promising drug candidates for Parkinson's disease treatment.
    Keywords:  Parkinson disease; Tetracycline; aggregation; alpha-synuclein; anti-inflammation
  14. Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Mar 17. pii: 3401. [Epub ahead of print]25(6):
      The review describes correlations between impaired functioning of chaperones and co-chaperones in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis. The study aims to highlight significant lines of research in this field. Chaperones like Hsp90 or Hsp70 are critical agents in regulating cell homeostasis. Due to some conditions, like aging, their activity is damaged, resulting in β-amyloid and tau aggregation. This leads to the development of neurocognitive impairment. Dysregulation of co-chaperones is one of the causes of this condition. Disorders in the functioning of molecules like PP5, Cdc37, CacyBP/SIPTRAP1, CHIP protein, FKBP52, or STIP1 play a key role in AD pathogenesis. PP5, Cdc37, CacyBP/SIPTRAP1, and FKBP52 are Hsp90 co-chaperones. CHIP protein is a co-chaperone that switches Hsp70/Hsp90 complexes, and STIP1 binds to Hsp70. Recognition of precise processes allows for the invention of effective treatment methods. Potential drugs may either reduce tau levels or inhibit tau accumulation and aggregation. Some substances neuroprotect from Aβ toxicity. Further studies on chaperones and co-chaperones are required to understand the fundamental tenets of this topic more entirely and improve the prevention and treatment of AD.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; Hsp60; Hsp70; Hsp90; chaperones; clusterin; dementia
  15. Antioxidants (Basel). 2024 Mar 05. pii: 316. [Epub ahead of print]13(3):
      Oxidative burden plays a central role in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology, fostering protein aggregation, inflammation, mitochondrial impairment, and cellular dysfunction that collectively lead to neuronal injury. The role of exosomes in propagating the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases including AD is now well established. However, recent studies have also shown that exosomes are crucial responders to oxidative stress in different tissues. Thus, this offers new insights and mechanistic links within the complex pathogenesis of AD through the involvement of oxidative stress and exosomes. Several studies have indicated that exosomes, acting as intracellular communicators, disseminate oxidatively modified contents from one cell to another, propagating the pathology of AD. Another emerging aspect is the exosome-mediated inhibition of ferroptosis in multiple tissues under different conditions which may have a role in neurodegenerative diseases as well. Apart from their involvement in the pathogenesis of AD, exosomes enter the bloodstream serving as novel noninvasive biomarkers for AD; some of the exosome contents also reflect the cerebral oxidative stress in this disease condition. This review highlights the intricate interplay between oxidative stress and exosome dynamics and underscores the potential of exosomes as a novel tool in AD diagnosis.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid beta; exosomes; miRNA; mitochondria; oxidative stress; tau phosphorylation
  16. Trends Neurosci. 2024 Mar 28. pii: S0166-2236(24)00043-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      A recent study by Kumar et al. identified several biological pathways that regulate the levels of endogenous alpha-synuclein (α-synuclein). They specifically highlighted the N-terminal acetylation (NTA) pathway as an important factor in maintaining the stability of endogenous α-synuclein, suggesting targeting the NTA pathway as a potential therapeutic approach.
    Keywords:  NatB; Parkinson’s disease; proteasome; protein aggregation; α-synuclein
  17. Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Mar 20. pii: 3479. [Epub ahead of print]25(6):
      Amyloid-associated neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), are characterized by the in-brain accumulation of β-sheet structured protein aggregates called amyloids. However, neither a disease model nor therapy is established. We review past data and present new, preliminary data and opinions to help solve this problem. The following is the data-derived model/hypothesis. (1) Amyloid-forming proteins have innate immunity functions implemented by conversion to another sheet conformation, α-sheet. (2) In health, α-sheet structured, amyloid-forming proteins inactivate microbes by co-assembly with microbe α-sheets. Amyloid-forming proteins then undergo α-to-β-sheet conversion. (3) In disease, α-sheet-structured, amyloid-forming proteins over-accumulate and are neuron-toxic. This hypothesis includes formation by virus capsid subunits of α-sheets. In support, we find that 5-10 mM methylene blue (MB) at 54 °C has a hyper-expanding, thinning effect on the phage T4 capsid, as seen by negative stain- and cryo-electron microscopy after initial detection by native gel electrophoresis (AGE). Given the reported mild anti-AD effect of MB, we propose the following corollary hypothesis. (1) Anti-AD MB activity is, at least in part, caused by MB-binding to amyloid α-sheet and (2) MB induces the transition to α-sheet of T4 capsid subunits. We propose using AGE of drug incubated T4 to test for improved anti-AD activity.
    Keywords:  agarose gel electrophoresis; alpha-sheet; amyloid-forming proteins; disease modeling; drug effectiveness assay; molecular model; native
  18. Fitoterapia. 2024 Mar 26. pii: S0367-326X(24)00107-2. [Epub ahead of print]175 105924
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, and accumulating evidence suggested that proteostatic imbalance is a key feature of the disease. Traditional Chinese medicine exhibits a multi-target therapeutic effect, making it highly suitable for addressing protein homeostasis imbalance in AD. Dendrobium officinale is a traditional Chinese herbs commonly used as tonic agent in China. In this study, we investigated protection effects of D. officinale phenolic extract (SH-F) and examined its underlying mechanisms by using transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans models. We found that treatment with SH-F (50 μg/mL) alleviated Aβ and tau protein toxicity in worms, and also reduced aggregation of polyglutamine proteins to help maintain proteostasis. RNA sequencing results showed that SH-F treatment significantly affected the proteolytic process and autophagy-lysosomal pathway. Furthermore, we confirmed that SH-F showing maintainance of proteostasis was dependent on bec-1 by qRT-PCR analysis and RNAi methods. Finally, we identified active components of SH-F by LC-MS method, and found the five major compounds including koaburaside, tyramine dihydroferulate, N-p-trans-coumaroyltyramine, naringenin and isolariciresinol are the main bioactive components responsible for the anti-AD activity of SH-F. Our findings provide new insights to develop a treatment strategy for AD by targeting proteostasis, and SH-F could be an alternative drug for the treatment of AD.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer's disease; Autophagy; Dendrobium officinale; Proteostasis; RNA sequencing
  19. Exp Eye Res. 2024 Mar 22. pii: S0014-4835(24)00082-4. [Epub ahead of print] 109861
      Amyloid-beta (Aβ), a family of aggregation-prone and neurotoxic peptides, has been implicated in the pathophysiology of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). We have previously shown that oligomeric and fibrillar species of Aβ42 exerted retinal toxicity in rats, but while the consequences of exposure to amyloid were related to intracellular effects, the mechanism of Aβ42 internalization in the retina is not well characterized. In the brain, the 67 kDa laminin receptor (67LR) participates in Aβ-related neuronal cell death. A short peptide derived from pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), formerly designated PEDF-335, was found to mitigate experimental models of ischemic retinopathy via targeting of 67LR. In the present study, we hypothesized that 67LR mediates the uptake of pathogenic Aβ42 assemblies in the retina, and that targeting of this receptor by PEDF-335 may limit the internalization of Aβ, thereby ameliorating its retinotoxicity. To test this assumption ARPE-19 cells in culture were incubated with PEDF-335 before treatment with fibrillar or oligomeric structures of Aβ42. Immunostaining confirmed that PEDF-335 treatment substantially prevented amyloid internalization into ARPE-19 cells and maintained their viability in the presence of toxic oligomeric and fibrillar Aβ42 entities in vitro. FRET competition assay was performed and confirmed the binding of PEDF-335 to 67LR in RPE-like cells. Wild-type rats were treated with intravitreal PEDF-335 in the experimental eye 2 days prior to administration of retinotoxic Aβ42 oligomers or fibrils to both eyes. Retinal function was assessed by electroretinography through 6 weeks post injection. The ERG responses in rats treated with oligomeric or fibrillar Aβ42 assemblies were near-normal in eyes previously treated with intravitreal PEDF-335, whereas those measured in the control eyes treated with injection of the Aβ42 assemblies alone showed pathologic attenuation of the retinal function through 6 weeks. The retinal presence of 67LR was determined ex vivo by immunostaining and western blotting. Retinal staining demonstrated the constitutional expression of 67LR mainly in the retinal nuclear layers. In the presence of Aβ42, the levels of 67LR were increased, although its retinal distribution remained largely unaltered. In contrast, no apparent differences in the retinal expression level of 67LR were noted following exposure to PEDF-335 alone, and its pattern of localization in the retina remained similarly concentrated primarily in the inner and outer nuclear layers. In summary, we found that PEDF-335 confers protection against Aβ42-mediated retinal toxicity, with significant effects noted in cells as well as in vivo in rats. The effects of PEDF-335 in the retina are potentially mediated via binding to 67LR and by at least partial inhibition of Aβ42 internalization. These results suggest that PEDF-335 may merit further consideration in the development of targeted inhibition of amyloid-related toxicity in the retina. More broadly, our observations provide evidence on the importance of extracellular versus intracellular Aβ42 in the retina and suggest concepts on the molecular mechanism of Aβ retinal pathogenicity.
    Keywords:  67 kDa laminin receptor; AMD; Amyloid β; PEDF; Retina
  20. Alzheimers Dement. 2024 Mar 23.
      INTRODUCTION: Tau aggregation into paired helical filaments and neurofibrillary tangles is characteristic of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related disorders. However, biochemical assays for the quantification of soluble, earlier-stage tau aggregates are lacking. We describe an immunoassay that is selective for tau oligomers and related soluble aggregates over monomers.METHODS: A homogeneous (single-antibody) immunoassay was developed using a novel anti-tau monoclonal antibody and validated with recombinant and brain tissue-derived tau.
    RESULTS: The assay signals were concentration dependent for recombinant tau aggregates in solution but not monomers, and recognized peptides within, but not outside, the aggregation-prone microtubule binding region. The signals in inferior and middle frontal cortical tissue homogenates increased with neuropathologically determined Braak staging, and were higher in insoluble than soluble homogenized brain fractions. Autopsy-verified AD gave stronger signals than other neurodegenerative diseases.
    DISCUSSION: The quantitative oligomer/soluble aggregate-specific assay can identify soluble tau aggregates, including oligomers, from monomers in human and in vitro biospecimens.
    HIGHLIGHTS: The aggregation of tau to form fibrils and neurofibrillary tangles is a key feature of Alzheimer's disease. However, biochemical assays for the quantification of oligomers/soluble aggregated forms of tau are lacking. We developed a new assay that preferentially binds to soluble tau aggregates, including oligomers and fibrils, versus monomers. The assay signal increased corresponding to the total protein content, Braak staging, and insolubility of the sequentially homogenized brain tissue fractions in an autopsy-verified cohort. The assay recognized tau peptides containing the microtubule binding region but not those covering the N- or C-terminal regions only.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer's disease; immunoprecipitation; microtubule binding region; soluble tau aggregates; tau oligomers
  21. Neuroreport. 2024 Mar 08.
      Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease characterized by the progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SN). The main bioactive component of green tea polyphenols (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) exerts protective effects against diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Therefore, this study investigated the effect of EGCG on the amelioration of neural damage in a chronic PD mouse model induced by α-synuclein preformed fibrils (α-syn-PFFs). A total of 20 C57BL/6J female mice were randomly divided into 3 groups: control group (saline, n = 6), model group (PFFs, n = 7), and prevention group (EGCG+PFFs, n = 7). A chronic PD mouse model was obtained by the administration of α-syn-PFFs by stereotaxic localization in the striatum. Behavioral tests were performed to evaluate PD-related anxiety-like behavior and motor impairments in the long-term PD progression. Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immuno-positive neurons and Ser129-phosphorylated α-syn (p-α-syn) were identified by immunohistochemistry. Pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines were measured by real-time quantitative PCR. EGCG pretreatment reduced anxiety-like behavior and motor impairments as revealed by the long-term behavioral test (2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months) on PD mice. EGCG also ameliorated PFF-induced degeneration of TH immuno-positive neurons and accumulation of p-α-syn in the SN and striatum at 6 months. Additionally, EGCG reduced the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines while promoting the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines. EGCG exerts a neuroprotective effect on long-term progression of the PD model.
  22. Commun Biol. 2024 Mar 28. 7(1): 376
      Expanded intronic G4C2 repeats in the C9ORF72 gene cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). These intronic repeats are translated through a non-AUG-dependent mechanism into five different dipeptide repeat proteins (DPRs), including poly-glycine-arginine (GR), which is aggregation-prone and neurotoxic. Here, we report that Kapβ2 and GR interact, co-aggregating, in cultured neurons in-vitro and CNS tissue in-vivo. Importantly, this interaction significantly decreased the risk of death of cultured GR-expressing neurons. Downregulation of Kapβ2 is detrimental to their survival, whereas increased Kapβ2 levels mitigated GR-mediated neurotoxicity. As expected, GR-expressing neurons displayed TDP-43 nuclear loss. Raising Kapβ2 levels did not restore TDP-43 into the nucleus, nor did alter the dynamic properties of GR aggregates. Overall, our findings support the design of therapeutic strategies aimed at up-regulating Kapβ2 expression levels as a potential new avenue for contrasting neurodegeneration in C9orf72-ALS/FTD.
  23. Chem Biol Interact. 2024 Mar 27. pii: S0009-2797(24)00124-8. [Epub ahead of print] 110978
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) protein aggregates, leading to synaptic dysfunction and neuronal cell death. In this study, we used a comprehensive approach encompassing in vitro assays, computational analyses, and an in vivo Caenorhabditis elegans model to evaluate the inhibitory effects of various xanthones, focusing on Garcinone D (GD), on Aβ42 oligomer formation. Dot blot analysis revealed concentration-dependent responses among xanthones, with GD consistently inhibiting Aβ42 oligomer formation at low concentrations (0.1 and 0.5 μM, inhibitions of 84.66 ± 2.25% and 85.06 ± 6.57%, respectively). Molecular docking and dynamics simulations provided insights into the molecular interactions between xanthones and Aβ42, highlighting the disruption of key residues involved in Aβ42 aggregation. The neuroprotective potential of GD was established using transgenic C. elegans GMC101, with substantial delays in paralysis reported at higher concentrations. Our findings show that GD is a potent suppressor of Aβ42 oligomer formation, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic candidate for AD. The concentration-dependent effects observed in both in vitro and in vivo models underscore the need for nuanced dose-response assessments. These findings contribute novel insights into the therapeutic landscape of xanthones against AD, emphasizing the multifaceted potential of GD for further translational endeavors in neurodegenerative disorder research.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer's disease; Amyloid-beta; Caenorhabditis elegans; Garcinone D; Molecular docking and dynamics; Xanthone
  24. Brain. 2024 Mar 25. pii: awae092. [Epub ahead of print]
      APP gene dosage is strongly associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis. Genomic duplication of the APP locus leads to autosomal dominant early-onset AD. Individuals with Down syndrome (trisomy of chromosome 21) harbor 3 copies of the APP gene and invariably develop progressive AD with highly characteristic neuropathological features. Restoring expression of APP to the equivalent of that of two gene copies, or lower, is a rational therapeutic strategy, as it would restore physiological levels of neuronal APP protein without the potentially deleterious consequences of inadvertently inducing loss of APP function. Here we find that antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) targeting APP are an effective approach to reduce APP protein levels and rescue endolysosome and autophagy dysfunction in APP duplication human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived cortical neurons. Importantly, using ultrasensitive single-aggregate imaging techniques, we show that APP targeting ASOs significantly reduce both intracellular and extracellular Aβ-containing aggregates. Our results highlight the potential of APP ASOs as a therapeutic approach for forms of AD caused by duplication of the APP gene, including monogenic AD and AD related to Down syndrome.
    Keywords:  Endosome; aggregation; amyloid precursor protein; autophagy; iPSCs; lysosome
  25. J Biol Chem. 2024 Mar 25. pii: S0021-9258(24)01728-9. [Epub ahead of print] 107231
      Aggregation of leukocyte cell-derived chemotaxin 2 (LECT2) causes ALECT2, a systemic amyloidosis that affects the kidney and liver. Previous studies established that LECT2 fibrillogenesis is accelerated by loss of its bound zinc ion and stirring/shaking. These forms of agitation create heterogeneous shear conditions, including air-liquid interfaces that denature proteins, that are not present in the body. Here, we determined the extent to which a more physiological form of mechanical stress-shear generated by fluid flow through a network of narrow channels-drives LECT2 fibrillogenesis. To mimic blood flow through the kidney, where LECT2 and other proteins form amyloid deposits, we developed a microfluidic device consisting of progressively branched channels narrowing from 5 mm to 20 μm in width. Shear was particularly pronounced at the branch points and in the smallest capillaries. Aggregation was induced within 24 h by shear levels that were in the physiological range and well below those required to unfold globular proteins such as LECT2. EM images suggested the resulting fibril ultrastructures were different when generated by laminar flow shear vs. shaking/stirring. Importantly, results from the microfluidic device showed the first evidence that the I40V mutation accelerated fibril formation and increased both size and density of the aggregates. These findings suggest that kidney-like flow shear, in combination with zinc loss, acts in combination with the I40V mutation to trigger LECT2 amyloidogenesis. These microfluidic devices may be of general use for uncovering mechanisms by which blood flow induces misfolding and amyloidosis of circulating proteins.
    Keywords:  ALECT2; heparan sulfate; heparin; hydrodynamic shear; microfluidic device; protein misfolding; systemic amyloidosis
  26. Biomolecules. 2024 Feb 27. pii: 282. [Epub ahead of print]14(3):
      Glycosylation, a prevalent post-translational modification, plays a pivotal role in regulating intricate cellular processes by covalently attaching glycans to macromolecules. Dysregulated glycosylation is linked to a spectrum of diseases, encompassing cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, congenital disorders, infections, and inflammation. This review delves into the intricate interplay between glycosylation and protein conformation, with a specific focus on the profound impact of N-glycans on the selection of distinct protein conformations characterized by distinct interactomes-namely, protein assemblies-under normal and pathological conditions across various diseases. We begin by examining the spike protein of the SARS virus, illustrating how N-glycans regulate the infectivity of pathogenic agents. Subsequently, we utilize the prion protein and the chaperone glucose-regulated protein 94 as examples, exploring instances where N-glycosylation transforms physiological protein structures into disease-associated forms. Unraveling these connections provides valuable insights into potential therapeutic avenues and a deeper comprehension of the molecular intricacies that underlie disease conditions. This exploration of glycosylation's influence on protein conformation effectively bridges the gap between the glycome and disease, offering a comprehensive perspective on the therapeutic implications of targeting conformational mutants and their pathologic assemblies in various diseases. The goal is to unravel the nuances of these post-translational modifications, shedding light on how they contribute to the intricate interplay between protein conformation, assembly, and disease.
    Keywords:  N-glycosylation; SARS-CoV-2 spike protein; aberrant protein assembly; conformational mutant; disease; disease-associated protein conformation; energy landscape; gain-of-function conformational change; glucose-regulated protein 94 (GRP94); prion protein; protein assembly mutation; protein dynamics