Structures and dynamics of β-barrel oligomer intermediates of amyloid-beta16-22 aggregation

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Accumulating evidence suggests that soluble oligomers are more toxic than final fibrils of amyloid aggregations. Among the mixture of inter-converting intermediates with continuous distribution of sizes and secondary structures, oligomers in the β-barrel conformation – a common class of protein folds with a closed β-sheet – have been postulated as the toxic species with well-defined three-dimensional structures to perform pathological functions. A common mechanism for amyloid toxicity, therefore, implies that all amyloid peptides should be able to form β-barrel oligomers as the aggregation intermediates. Here, we applied all-atom discrete molecular dynamics (DMD) simulations to evaluate the formation of β-barrel oligomers and characterize their structures and dynamics in the aggregation of a seven-residue amyloid peptide, corresponding to the amyloid core of amyloid-β with a sequence of 16 KLVFFAE 22 (Aβ16-22). We carried out aggregation simulations with various numbers of peptides to study the size dependence of aggregation dynamics and assembly structures. Consistent with previous computational studies, we observed the formation of β-barrel oligomers in all-atom DMD simulations. Using a network-based approach to automatically identify β-barrel conformations, we systematically characterized β-barrels of various sizes. Our simulations revealed the conformational inter-conversion between β-barrels and double-layer β-sheets due to increased structural strains upon forming a closed β-barrel while maximizing backbone hydrogen bonds. The potential of mean force analysis further characterized the free energy barriers between these two states. The obtained structural and dynamic insights of β-barrel oligomers may help better understand the molecular mechanism of oligomer toxicities and design novel therapeutics targeting the toxic β-barrel oligomers. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Protein Aggregation and Misfolding at the Cell Membrane Interface edited by Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy




Ge, X., Sun, Y., & Ding, F. (2018). Structures and dynamics of β-barrel oligomer intermediates of amyloid-beta16-22 aggregation. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes, 1860(9), 1687–1697.

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