Computational insights into the role of α-strand/sheet in aggregation of α-synuclein.


Graduate School of New Drug Discovery and Development, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, 305-764, Republic of Korea. [Email]


The α-synuclein is a major component of amyloid fibrils found in Lewy bodies, the characteristic intracellular proteinaceous deposits which are pathological hallmarks of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia. It is an intrinsically disordered protein that may undergo dramatic structural changes to form amyloid fibrils. Aggregation process from α-synuclein monomers to amyloid fibrils through oligomeric intermediates is considered as the disease-causative toxic mechanism. However, mechanism underlying aggregation is not well-known despite several attempts. To characterize the mechanism, we have explored the effects of pH and temperature on the structural properties of wild-type and mutant α-synuclein using molecular dynamics (MD) simulation technique. MD studies suggested that amyloid fibrils can grow by monomer. Conformational transformation of the natively unfolded protein into partially folded intermediate could be accountable for aggregation and fibrillation. An intermediate α-strand was observed in the hydrophobic non-amyloid-β component (NAC) region of α-synuclein that could proceed to α-sheet and initiate early assembly events. Water network around the intermediate was analyzed to determine its influence on the α-strand structure. Findings of this study provide novel insights into possible mechanism of α-synuclein aggregation and promising neuroprotective strategy that could aid alleviate PD and its symptoms.