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Protein Engineering, Design and Selection

Year: 2009  |  Volume: 22  |  Issue: 8  |  Page No.: 479 - 488

Differential modification of Cys10 alters transthyretin's effect on beta-amyloid aggregation and toxicity

L Liu, J Hou, J Du, R. S Chumanov, Q Xu, Y Ge, J. A Johnson and R. M. Murphy

Abstract

Tg2576 mice produce high levels of beta-amyloid (Aβ) and develop amyloid deposits, but lack neurofibrillary tangles and do not suffer the extensive neuronal cell loss characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. Protection from Aβ toxicity has been attributed to up-regulation of transthyretin (TTR), a normal component of plasma and cerebrospinal fluid. We compared the effect of TTR purified from human plasma (pTTR) with that produced recombinantly (rTTR) on Aβ aggregation and toxicity. pTTR slowed Aβ aggregation but failed to protect primary cortical neurons from Aβ toxicity. In contrast, rTTR accelerated aggregation, while effectively protecting neurons. This inverse correlation between Aβ aggregation kinetics and toxicity is consistent with the hypothesis that soluble intermediates rather than insoluble fibrils are the most toxic Aβ species. We carried out a detailed comparison of pTTR with rTTR to ascertain the probable cause of these different effects. No differences in secondary, tertiary or quaternary structure were detected. However, pTTR differed from rTTR in the extent and nature of modification at Cys10. We hypothesize that differential modification at Cys10 regulates TTR's effect on Aβ aggregation and toxicity.

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