DIBMA nanodiscs keep α-synuclein folded

Regina Adão, Pedro F Cruz, Daniela C Vaz, Fátima Fonseca, Jannik Nedergaard Pedersen, Frederico Ferreira-da-Silva, Rui M M Brito, Carlos H I Ramos, Daniel Otzen, Sandro Keller, Margarida Bastos

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α-Synuclein (αsyn) is a cytosolic intrinsically disordered protein (IDP) known to fold into an α-helical structure when binding to membrane lipids, decreasing protein aggregation. Model membrane enable elucidation of factors critically affecting protein folding/aggregation, mostly using either small unilamellar vesicles (SUVs) or nanodiscs surrounded by membrane scaffold proteins (MSPs). Yet SUVs are mechanically strained, while MSP nanodiscs are expensive. To test the impact of lipid particle size on α-syn structuring, while overcoming the limitations associated with the lipid particles used so far, we compared the effects of large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) and lipid-bilayer nanodiscs encapsulated by diisobutylene/maleic acid copolymer (DIBMA) on αsyn secondary-structure formation, using human-, elephant- and whale -αsyn. Our results confirm that negatively charged lipids induce αsyn folding in h-αsyn and e-αsyn but not in w-αsyn. When a mixture of zwitterionic and negatively charged lipids was used, no increase in the secondary structure was detected at 45 °C. Further, our results show that DIBMA/lipid particles (DIBMALPs) are highly suitable nanoscale membrane mimics for studying αsyn secondary-structure formation and aggregation, as folding was essentially independent of the lipid/protein ratio, in contrast with what we observed for LUVs having the same lipid compositions. This study reveals a new and promising application of polymer-encapsulated lipid-bilayer nanodiscs, due to their excellent efficiency in structuring disordered proteins such as αsyn into nontoxic α-helical structures. This will contribute to the unravelling and modelling aspects concerning protein-lipid interactions and α-helix formation by αsyn, paramount to the proposal of new methods to avoid protein aggregation and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number183314
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Lipid nanodiscs
  • Membrane lipids
  • Secondary structure
  • α-Synuclein


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