Journal of molecular biology

Characterization of the formation of amyloid protofibrils from barstar by mapping residue-specific fluorescence dynamics.

PMID 16546212


The small protein barstar aggregates at low pH to form soluble oligomers, which can be transformed into fibrillar aggregates at an elevated temperature. To characterize structurally, with residue-specific resolution, the process of amyloid formation of barstar, as well as to monitor the increase in size that accompanies the aggregation process, time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy decay measurements have been introduced as a valuable probe. Seven different single-cysteine-containing mutant forms of barstar were made, to each of which a fluorophore was attached at the thiol group. The rotational dynamics of these seven fluorophores, as well as of the sole intrinsic tryptophan residue in the protein, were determined in the amyloid protofibrils formed, as well as in the soluble oligomers from which the protofibrils arise upon heating. Mapping of the fast rotational dynamics onto the sequence of the protein yields dynamic amplitude maps that allowed identification of the segments of the chain that possess local structure in the soluble oligomer and amyloid protofibrils. The patterns of these maps of the soluble oligomer and protofibrils are seen to be similar; and protofibrils display more local structure than do the soluble oligomers, at all residue positions studied. The observation that transformation from soluble oligomers to protofibrils does not perturb local structure significantly at eight different residue positions, suggests that the soluble oligomers transform directly into protofibrils, without undergoing drastic structural rearrangements.

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