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How epigallocatechin gallate binds and assembles oligomeric forms of human alpha-synuclein

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The intrinsically disordered human protein α-synuclein (αSN) can self-associate into oligomers and amyloid fibrils. Several lines of evidence suggest that oligomeric αSN is cytotoxic, making it important to devise strategies to either prevent oligomer formation and/or inhibit the ensuing toxicity. (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has emerged as a molecular modulator of αSN self-assembly, as it reduces the flexibility of the C-terminal region of αSN in the oligomer and inhibits the oligomer's ability to perturb phospholipid membranes and induce cell death. However, a detailed structural and kinetic characterization of this interaction is still lacking. Here, we use liquid-state NMR spectroscopy to investigate how EGCG interacts with monomeric and oligomeric forms of αSN. We find that EGCG can bind to all parts of monomeric αSN but exhibits highest affinity for the N-terminal region. Monomeric αSN binds ∼54 molecules of EGCG in total during oligomerization. Furthermore, kinetic data suggests that EGCG dimerization is coupled with the αSN association reaction. In contrast, preformed oligomers only bind ∼ 7 EGCG molecules per protomer, in agreement with the more compact nature of the oligomer compared to the natively unfolded monomer. In previously conducted cell assays as little as 0.36 EGCG per αSN reduce oligomer toxicity by 50%. Our study thus demonstrates that αSN cytotoxicity can be inhibited by small molecules at concentrations at least an order of magnitude below full binding capacity. We speculate this is due to cooperative binding of protein stabilized EGCG dimers, which in turn implies synergy between protein association and EGCG dimerization.

TidsskriftThe Journal of Biological Chemistry
Sider (fra-til)100788
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 18 maj 2021

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