The importance of understanding the mechanism of protein aggregation into insoluble amyloid fibrils relies not only on its medical consequences, but also on its more basic properties of self--organization. The discovery that a large number of uncorrelated proteins can form, under proper conditions, structurally similar fibrils has suggested that the underlying mechanism is a general feature of polypeptide chains. In the present work, we address the early events preceeding amyloid fibril formation in solutions of zinc--free human insulin incubated at low pH and high temperature. Aside from being a easy--to--handle model for protein fibrillation, subcutaneous aggregation of insulin after injection is a nuisance which affects patients with diabetes. Here, we show by time--lapse atomic force microscopy (AFM) that a steady-state distribution of protein oligomers with an exponential tail is reached within few minutes after heating. This metastable phase lasts for few hours until aggregation into fibrils suddenly occurs. A theoretical explanation of the oligomer pre--fibrillar distribution is given in terms of a simple coagulation--evaporation kinetic model, in which concentration plays the role of a critical parameter. Due to high resolution and sensitivity of AFM technique, the observation of a long-lasting latency time should be considered an actual feature of the aggregation process, and not simply ascribed to instrumental inefficency. These experimental facts, along with the kinetic model used, claim for a critical role of thermal concentration fluctuations in the process of fibril nucleation.

Early events in insulin fibrillization studied by time-lapse atomic force microscopy / A. Podesta, G. Tiana, P. Milani, M. Manno. - In: BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL. - ISSN 0006-3495. - 90:2(2006), pp. 589-597.

Early events in insulin fibrillization studied by time-lapse atomic force microscopy

A. Podesta
Primo
;
G. Tiana
Secondo
;
P. Milani
Penultimo
;
2006

Abstract

The importance of understanding the mechanism of protein aggregation into insoluble amyloid fibrils relies not only on its medical consequences, but also on its more basic properties of self--organization. The discovery that a large number of uncorrelated proteins can form, under proper conditions, structurally similar fibrils has suggested that the underlying mechanism is a general feature of polypeptide chains. In the present work, we address the early events preceeding amyloid fibril formation in solutions of zinc--free human insulin incubated at low pH and high temperature. Aside from being a easy--to--handle model for protein fibrillation, subcutaneous aggregation of insulin after injection is a nuisance which affects patients with diabetes. Here, we show by time--lapse atomic force microscopy (AFM) that a steady-state distribution of protein oligomers with an exponential tail is reached within few minutes after heating. This metastable phase lasts for few hours until aggregation into fibrils suddenly occurs. A theoretical explanation of the oligomer pre--fibrillar distribution is given in terms of a simple coagulation--evaporation kinetic model, in which concentration plays the role of a critical parameter. Due to high resolution and sensitivity of AFM technique, the observation of a long-lasting latency time should be considered an actual feature of the aggregation process, and not simply ascribed to instrumental inefficency. These experimental facts, along with the kinetic model used, claim for a critical role of thermal concentration fluctuations in the process of fibril nucleation.
Settore FIS/03 - Fisica della Materia
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/17147
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