Local interactions influence the fibrillation kinetics, structure and dynamics of Aβ(1–40) but leave the general fibril structure unchanged†
A series of peptide mutants was studied to understand the influence of local physical interactions on the fibril formation mechanism of amyloid β (Aβ)(1–40). In the peptide variants, the well-known hydrophobic contact between residues phenylalanine 19 and leucine 34 was rationally modified. In single site mutations, residue phenylalanine 19 was replaced by amino acids that introduce higher structural flexibility by a glycine mutation or restrict the backbone flexibility by introduction of proline. Next, the aromatic phenylalanine was replaced by tyrosine or tryptophan, respectively, to probe the influence of additional hydrogen bond forming capacity in the fibril interior. Furthermore, negatively charged glutamate or positively charged lysine was introduced to probe the influence of electrostatics. In double mutants, the hydrophobic contact was replaced by a putative salt bridge (glutamate and lysine) or two electrostatically repelling lysine residues. The influence of these mutations on the fibrillation kinetics and morphology, cross-β structure as well as the local structure and dynamics was probed using fluorescence, transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and solid-state NMR spectroscopy. While the fibrillation kinetics and the local structure and dynamics of the peptide variants were influenced by the introduction of these local fields, the overall morphology and cross-β structure of the fibrils remained very robust against all the probed interactions. Overall, 7 out of the 8 mutated peptides formed fibrils of very similar morphology compared to the wildtype. However, characteristic local structural and dynamical changes indicate that amyloid fibrils show an astonishing ability to respond to local perturbations but overall show a very homogenous mesoscopic organization.