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Strong interactions with polyethylenimine-coated human serum albumin nanoparticles (PEI-HSA NPs) alter α-synuclein conformation and aggregation kinetics

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The interaction between nanoparticles (NPs) and the small intrinsically disordered protein α-synuclein (αSN), whose aggregation is central in the development of Parkinson's disease, is of great relevance in biomedical applications of NPs as drug carriers. Here we showed using a combination of different techniques that αSN interacts strongly with positively charged polyethylenimine-coated human serum albumin (PEI-HSA) NPs, leading to a significant alteration in the αSN secondary structure. In contrast, the weak interactions of αSN with HSA NPs allowed αSN to remain unfolded. These different levels of interactions had different effects on αSN aggregation. While the weakly interacting HSA NPs did not alter the aggregation kinetic parameters of αSN, the rate of primary nucleation increased in the presence of PEI-HSA NPs. The aggregation rate changed in a PEI-HSA NP-concentration dependent and size independent manner and led to fibrils which were covered with small aggregates. Furthermore, PEI-HSA NPs reduced the level of membrane-perturbing oligomers and reduced oligomer toxicity in cell assays, highlighting a potential role for NPs in reducing αSN pathogenicity in vivo. Collectively, our results highlight the fact that a simple modification of NPs can strongly modulate interactions with target proteins, which may have important and positive implications in NP safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19627-19640
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2015

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