Mixtures of wild-type and a pathogenic (E22G) form of Abeta40 in vitro accumulate protofibrils, including amyloid pores.
Although APP mutations associated with inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) are relatively rare, detailed studies of these mutations may prove critical for gaining important insights into the mechanism(s) and etiology of AD. Here, we present a detailed biophysical characterization of the structural properties of protofibrils formed by the Arctic variant (E22G) of amyloid-beta protein (Abeta40(ARC)) as well as the effect of Abeta40(WT) on the distribution of the protofibrillar species formed by Abeta40(ARC) by characterizing biologically relevant mixtures of both proteins that may mimic the situation in the heterozygous patients. These studies revealed that the Arctic mutation accelerates both Abeta oligomerization and fibrillogenesis in vitro. In addition, Abeta40(ARC) was observed to affect both the morphology and the size distribution of Abeta protofibrils. Electron microscopy examination of the protofibrils formed by Abeta40(ARC) revealed several morphologies, including: (1) relatively compact spherical particles roughly 4-5 nm in diameter; (2) annular pore-like protofibrils; (3) large spherical particles 18-25 nm in diameter; and (4) short filaments with chain-like morphology. Conversion of Abeta40(ARC) protofibrils to fibrils occurred more rapidly than protofibrils formed in mixed solutions of Abeta40(WT)/Abeta40(ARC), suggesting that co-incubation of Abeta40(ARC) with Abeta40(WT) leads to kinetic stabilization of Abeta40(ARC) protofibrils. An increase in the ratio of Abeta(WT)/Abeta(MUT(Arctic)), therefore, may result in the accumulation of potential neurotoxic protofibrils and acceleration of disease progression in familial Alzheimer's disease mutation carriers.