© 2020 Selig et al. Small heat-shock proteins (sHSPs) are ubiquitously expressed molecular chaperones that inhibit amyloid fibril formation; however, their mechanisms of action remain poorly understood. sHSPs comprise a conserved α-crystallin domain flanked by variable N- and C-terminal regions. To investigate the functional contributions of these three regions, we compared the chaperone activities of various constructs of human αB-crystallin (HSPB5) and heat-shock 27-kDa protein (Hsp27, HSPB1) during amyloid formation by α-synuclein and apolipoprotein C-II. Using an array of approaches, including thioflavin T fluorescence assays and sedimentation analysis, we found that the N-terminal region of Hsp27 and the terminal regions of αB-crystallin are important for delaying amyloid fibril nucleation and for disaggregating mature apolipoprotein C-II fibrils. We further show that the terminal regions are required for stable fibril binding by both sHSPs and for mediating lateral fibril-fibril association, which sequesters preformed fibrils into large aggregates and is believed to have a cytoprotective function. We conclude that although the isolated α-crystallin domain retains some chaperone activity against amyloid formation, the flanking domains contribute additional and important chaperone activities, both in delaying amyloid formation and in mediating interactions of sHSPs with amyloid aggregates. Both these chaperone activities have significant implications for the pathogenesis and progression of diseases associated with amyloid deposition, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
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