Amyloid fibril formation is central to the etiology of a wide range of serious human diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and prion diseases. Despite an ever growing collection of amyloid fibril structures found in the Protein Data Bank (PDB) and numerous clinical trials, therapeutic strategies remain elusive. One contributing factor to the lack of progress on this challenging problem is incomplete understanding of the mechanisms by which these locally ordered protein aggregates self-assemble in solution. Many current models of amyloid deposition diseases posit that the most toxic species are oligomers that form either along the pathway to forming fibrils or in competition with their formation, making it even more critical to understand the kinetics of fibrillization. A recently introduced topological model for aggregation based on network Hamiltonians is capable of recapitulating the entire process of amyloid fibril formation, beginning with thousands of free monomers and ending with kinetically accessible and thermodynamically stable amyloid fibril structures. The model can be parameterized to match the five topological classes encompassing all amyloid fibril structures so far discovered in the PDB. This paper introduces a set of network statistical and topological metrics for quantitative analysis and characterization of the fibrillization mechanisms predicted by the network Hamiltonian model. The results not only provide insight into different mechanisms leading to similar fibril structures, but also offer targets for future experimental exploration into the mechanisms by which fibrils form.
National Science Foundation
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Yue Yu, Gianmarc Grazioli, Megha H. Unhelkar, Rachel W. Martin, and Carter T. Butts. "Network Hamiltonian models reveal pathways to amyloid fibril formation" Scientific Reports (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-72260-8