Single molecule studies of synuclein family of proteins and peptides with nanopores
Alpha-synuclein (AS) is a natively unfolded protein whose structure is extremely sensitive to its environment. The hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is aggregation and deposition of AS in inclusion bodies. Formation of misfolded AS monomers which are partially folded is the first and critical stage in fibrillation of AS and is a good target for designing therapeutic strategies. Characterization the biochemical properties of partially folded intermediates induced by fibrillization and anti- fibrillization agents will help to design drugs as new inhibitors of AS misfolding and aggregation. Nanopore analysis is an emerging technique for studying the molecular mechanism of protein misfolding. This technique was used to characterize the conformational change of AS in the presence of two groups of chemicals; anti-parkinsonian small molecules (dopamine and nicotine) and Parkinson’s developing toxin (Cu(II) and methamphetamine). Other biophysical techniques such as NMR spectroscopy and isothermal titration calorimentry (ITC) were able to confirm the nanopore analysis results and also to study other biophysical properties of the partially folded intermediates such as the binding constant of the interaction and the secondary structure content. The results from nanopore analysis showed that both groups of ligands shifted the blockade current peak of AS (centered at -86 pA) to lower blockade currents but in a different manner. Anti-parkinsonian drugs shifted the blockade current of AS to intermediate peaks between -40 to -80 pA but Parkinson developing toxins shifted the peak to a lower blockade current centered at -25 pA which suggests a more compact conformation. Thus nanopore analysis distinguished the different conformation induced by different ligands. Furthermore nanopore analysis with AS fragments showed that these ligands bind to different regions of AS. NMR spectroscopy of AS in the presence of dopamine and nicotine isomers was in agreement with the nanopore analysis and showed conformational changes of AS in a concentration dependent manner. CD spectroscopy results showed that the secondary structure of AS alone and in the presence of ligands was mostly random coil and suggests a loop formation model for the interaction of ligands with AS. The results of this thesis showed the application of nanopore analysis as a real-time and label-free technique to screen a library of ligands for designing misfolding inhibitors for PD treatment. The result of a synergic experiment with nicotine and caffeine showed that combination of these anti-parkinsonian small molecules would be a promising new drug for treatment of PD.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorLee, Jeremy S.
CommitteeRoesler, Bill; Krol, Edward; Moore, Stanley; Leary, Scot
Copyright DateSeptember 2014
Parkinson's disease, alpha-synuclein, Intrinsically disordered protein, Nanopore analysis, Induced folding