Catalytic Prion-Like Cross-Talk between a Key Alzheimer’s Disease Tau-Fragment R3 and the Type 2 Diabetes Peptide IAPP

The aberrant association of proteins/peptides is implicated in the etiology and pathogenesis of a variety of human diseases. In general, the primary protein component responsible for the formation of aggregates is different in each case and is specific to a particular disease condition. However, there are instances where multiple protein aggregates have been found to coexist in the same or different tissue(s), thereby leading to mixed pathologies and exacerbation of disease symptoms. In this context, a strong link has been established between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, the underlying molecular details still remain elusive. Here, we report the direct interaction of an AD-associated amyloidogenic cytotoxic fragment of Tau (R3:306–336) with islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) implicated in T2D. Using ion-mobility mass spectrometry (IM-MS) in conjunction with fluorescence spectroscopy, circular dichroism, and transmission electron microscopy, we have been able to provide critical mechanistic insights into these interactions. Our IM-MS data showed the formation of hetero-oligomers of R3 and IAPP. Additionally, using IM-MS, we found that the amyloidogenic extended beta hairpin conformation of IAPP is favored much more in the R3-IAPP mixture, when compared with IAPP alone. Furthermore, we found that the oligomerization of R3 occurs much faster in the presence of IAPP. We also observed a secondary nucleation step in our kinetics data for the R3-IAPP mixture. We believe that the secondary nucleation step is demonstrative of R3 aggregation which otherwise requires the presence of anionic cofactors. Our results provide the first experimental evidence for direct molecular interaction between Tau and IAPP and highlights the repercussion of possible “prion-like” cross-talk in the proliferation of diseases that are associated with different tissues/organs.