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Tracking Internal and Global Diffusive Dynamics During Protein Aggregation by High-Resolution Neutron Spectroscopy

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journal contribution
posted on 22.07.2020, 22:15 by Kevin Pounot, Hussein Chaaban, Vito Foderà, Giorgio Schirò, Martin Weik, Tilo Seydel
Proteins can misfold and form either amorphous or organized aggregates with different morphologies and features. Aggregates of amyloid nature are pathological hallmarks in so-called protein conformational diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Evidence prevails that the transient early phases of the reaction determine the aggregate morphology and toxicity. As a consequence, real-time monitoring of protein aggregation is of utmost importance. Here, we employed time-resolved neutron backscattering spectroscopy to follow center-of-mass self-diffusion and nano- to picosecond internal dynamics of lysozyme during aggregation into a specific β-sheet rich superstructure, called particulates, formed at the isoelectric point of the protein. Particulate formation is found to be a one-step process, and protein internal dynamics, to remain unchanged during the entire aggregation process. The time-resolved neutron backscattering spectroscopy approach developed here, in combination with standard kinetics assays, provides a unifying framework in which dynamics and conformational transitions can be related to the different aggregation pathways.