Single Molecule Characterization of Amyloid Oligomers.


Yang J(1)(2), Perrett S(1)(3), Wu S(1)(3).
Author information:
(1)National Laboratory of Biomacromolecules, CAS Center for Excellence in Biomacromolecules, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 15 Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China.
(2)Department of Cell Biology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.
(3)University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19A Yuquan Road, Shijingshan District, Beijing 100049, China.


The misfolding and aggregation of polypeptide chains into β-sheet-rich amyloid fibrils is associated with a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases. Growing evidence indicates that the oligomeric intermediates populated in the early stages of amyloid formation rather than the mature fibrils are responsible for the cytotoxicity and pathology and are potentially therapeutic targets. However, due to the low-populated, transient, and heterogeneous nature of amyloid oligomers, they are hard to characterize by conventional bulk methods. The development of single molecule approaches provides a powerful toolkit for investigating these oligomeric intermediates as well as the complex process of amyloid aggregation at molecular resolution. In this review, we present an overview of recent progress in characterizing the oligomerization of amyloid proteins by single molecule fluorescence techniques, including single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (smFRET), fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), single-molecule photobleaching and super-resolution optical imaging. We discuss how these techniques have been applied to investigate the different aspects of amyloid oligomers and facilitate understanding of the mechanism of amyloid aggregation.