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A multimethod approach for analyzing FapC fibrillation and determining mass per length

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Amyloid proteins are found in a wide range of organisms owing to the high stability of the β-sheet core of the amyloid fibrils. There are both pathological amyloids involved in various diseases and functional amyloids that play a beneficial role for the organism. The aggregation process is complex and often involves many different species. Full understanding of this process requires parallel acquisition of data by complementary techniques monitoring the time course of aggregation. This is not an easy task, given the often-stochastic nature of aggregation, which can lead to significant variations in lag time. Here, we investigate the aggregation process of the functional amyloid FapC by simultaneous use of four different techniques, namely dynamic light scattering, small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS), circular dichroism, and Thioflavin T fluorescence. All these approaches are applied to the same FapC sample just after desalting. Our data allow us to construct a master time-course graph showing the same time-course of aggregation by all techniques. This allows us to integrate insights from approaches that report on different structural and length scales. During the lag phase, loosely aggregated oligomers with random-coil structure are formed, which subsequently transform to fibrils without accumulation of additional significant species. Subsequently, the loosely associated protofilaments/subfilaments, which form side by side, mature to more compact fibrils. Furthermore, we determine the mass per length of the mature fibrils, obtaining very similar results by SAXS (33 kDa/nm) and tilted-beam transmission electron microscopy (31 kDa/nm). Transmission electron microscopy showed that the fibrils consist of primarily two protofilaments and similar dimensions of the cross section of the fibrils as revealed by SAXS modeling when the number of protofilaments per fibril was taken into account. Mass per length information underscores the general usefulness of SAXS in fibrillation analysis and provides an important constraint for further modeling the fibril structures.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiophysical Journal
Pages (from-to)2262-2275
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Amyloid, Circular Dichroism, Dynamic Light Scattering, Scattering, Small Angle, X-Ray Diffraction

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