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Conformational Basis for Asymmetric Seeding Barrier in Filaments of Three- and Four-Repeat Tau

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posted on 2015-12-16, 21:30 authored by Ayisha Siddiqua, Yin Luo, Virginia Meyer, Michael A. Swanson, Xiang Yu, Guanghong Wei, Jie Zheng, Gareth R. Eaton, Buyong Ma, Ruth Nussinov, Sandra S. Eaton, Martin Margittai
Tau pathology in Alzheimer’s disease is intimately linked to the deposition of proteinacious filaments, which akin to infectious prions, have been proposed to spread via seeded conversion. Here we use double electron–electron resonance (DEER) spectroscopy in combination with extensive computational analysis to show that filaments of three- (3R) and four-repeat (4R) tau are conformationally distinct. Distance measurements between spin labels in the third repeat, reveal tau amyloid filaments as ensembles of known β-strand–turn−β-strand U-turn motifs. Whereas filaments seeded with 3R tau are structurally homogeneous, filaments seeded with 4R tau are heterogeneous, composed of at least three distinct conformers. These findings establish a molecular basis for the seeding barrier between different tau isoforms and offer a new powerful approach for investigating the composition and dynamics of amyloid fibril ensembles.