Role of phosphatidylserine in amyloid-beta oligomerization at asymmetric phospholipid bilayers†
Amyloid-beta (Aβ1–42) aggregation triggers neurotoxicity and is linked to Alzheimer's disease. Aβ1–42 oligomers, rather than extended fibrils, adhere to the cell membrane, causing cell death. Phosphatidylserine (PS), an anionic phospholipid, is prevalent in neuronal membranes (< 20 molar percentage) and, while isolated to the cytoplasmic leaflet of the membrane in healthy cells, its exposure in apoptotic cells and migration to exoplasmic leaflet is triggered by oxidative damage to the membrane. It is widely believed that PS plays a crucial role in the Aβ peptide interaction in the membranes of neuronal cells. However, due to the complexity of the cell membrane, it can be challenging to address molecular level understanding of the PS-Aβ binding and oligomerization processes. Herein, we use microcavity supported lipid bilayers (MSLBs) to analyse PS and Aβ1–42 binding, oligomer formation, and membrane damage. MSLBs are a useful model to evaluate protein–membrane interactions because of their cell-like dual aspect fluidity, their addressability and compositional versatility. We used electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and confocal fluorescence microscopy to compare the impact of Aβ1–42 on simple zwitterioinic membrane, dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC), with MSLBs comprised of transversally asymmetric binary DOPC and dioleoylphosphatidylserine (DOPS). Monomeric Aβ1–42 adsorbs weakly to the pristine zwitterionic DOPC membrane without aggregation. Using a membrane integrity test, with pyranine trapped within the cavities beneath the membrane, Aβ1–42 exposure did not result in pyranine leakage, indicating that DOPC membranes were intact. When 10 mol% DOPS was doped asymmetrically into the membrane's outer leaflet, oligomerization of Aβ1–42 monomer was evident in EIS and atomic force microscopy (AFM), and confocal imaging revealed that membrane damage, resulted in extensive pyranine leakage from the pores. The effects were time, and DOPS and Aβ1–42 concentration-dependent. Membrane pore formation was visible within 30 minutes, and oligomerization, membrane-oligomer multilayer, and Aβ1–42 fibril formation evident over 3 to 18 hours. In asymmetric membranes with DOPS localized to the lower leaflet, optothermally (laser induced) damage increased local DOPS concentrations at the distal leaflet, promoting Aβ1–42 aggregation.