Publication Details

Kulig, M. & Ecroyd, H. (2012). The small heat-shock protein αB-crystallin uses different mechanisms of chaperone action to prevent the amorphous versus fibrillar aggregation of α-lactalbumin. Biochemical Journal, 448 (N/A), 343-352.


Stress conditions can destabilize proteins, promoting them to unfold and adopt intermediately folded states. Partially folded protein intermediates are unstable and prone to aggregation down off-folding pathways leading to the formation of either amorphous or amyloid fibril aggregates. The sHsp (small heat-shock protein) αB-crystallin acts as a molecular chaperone to prevent both amorphous and fibrillar protein aggregation; however, the precise molecular mechanisms behind its chaperone action are incompletely understood. To investigate whether the chaperone activity of αB-crystallin is dependent upon the form of aggregation (amorphous compared with fibrillar), bovine α-lactalbumin was developed as a model target protein that could be induced to aggregate down either off-folding pathway using comparable buffer conditions. Thus when α-lactalbumin was reduced it aggregated amorphously, whereas a reduced and carboxymethylated form aggregated to form amyloid fibrils. Using this model, αB-crystallin was shown to be a more efficient chaperone against amorphously aggregating α-lactalbumin than when it aggregated to form fibrils. Moreover, αB-crystallin forms high molecular mass complexes with α-lactalbumin to prevent its amorphous aggregation, but prevents fibril formation via weak transient interactions. Thus, the conformational stability of the protein intermediate, which is a precursor to aggregation, plays a critical role in modulating the chaperone mechanism of αB-crystallin.



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