The Monomeric α-Crystallin Domain of the Small Heat-shock Proteins αB-crystallin and Hsp27 Binds Amyloid Fibril Ends: sHSP α-crystallin domain binds amyloid fibril ends

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Journal of Molecular Biology


Small heat-shock proteins (sHSPs) are ubiquitously expressed molecular chaperones present in all kingdoms of life that inhibit protein misfolding and aggregation. Despite their importance in proteostasis, the structure–function relationships of sHSPs remain elusive. Human sHSPs are characterised by a central, highly conserved α-crystallin domain (ACD) and variable-length N- and C-terminal regions. The ACD forms antiparallel homodimers via an extended β-strand, creating a shared β-sheet at the dimer interface. The N- and C-terminal regions mediate formation of higher order oligomers that are thought to act as storage forms for chaperone-active dimers. We investigated the interactions of the ACD of two human sHSPs, αB-crystallin (αB-C) and Hsp27, with apolipoprotein C-II amyloid fibrils using analytical ultracentrifugation and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The ACD was found to interact transiently with amyloid fibrils to inhibit fibril elongation and naturally occurring fibril end-to-end joining. This interaction was sensitive to the concentration of fibril ends indicating a ‘fibril-capping’ interaction. Furthermore, resonances arising from the ACD monomer were attenuated to a greater extent than those of the ACD dimer in the presence of fibrils, suggesting that the monomer may bind fibrils. This hypothesis was supported by mutagenesis studies in which disulfide cross-linked ACD dimers formed by both αB-C and Hsp27 were less effective at inhibiting amyloid fibril elongation and fibril end-to-end joining than ACD constructs lacking disulfide cross-linking. Our results indicate that sHSP monomers inhibit amyloid fibril elongation, highlighting the importance of the dynamic oligomeric nature of sHSPs for client binding.

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Australian Research Council



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