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Proteolysis of Amyloid β by Lysosomal Enzymes as a Function of Fibril Morphology


Aggregation of amyloid-β (Aβ) into extracellular plaques is a well-known hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Similarly, autophagic vacuoles, autophagosomes, and other residual bodies within dystrophic neurites, though more difficult to detect, are characteristic features of AD. To explore the potential intersection between these observations, we conducted experiments to assess whether Aβ fibril formation disrupts proteolysis by lysosomal enzymes. Fibrils constituted by either Aβ 1-40 or Aβ 1-42 were grown under both neutral and acidic pH. The extent of proteolysis by individual cathepsins (L, D, B, and H) was monitored by both thioflavin T fluorescence and liquid chromatography combined with mass spectrometry. The results show that all Aβ fibril morphologies are resistant to cathepsin digestion, with significant amounts of the undigested material remaining for samples grown in either neutral or acidic pH. Further analysis revealed that the neutral-grown fibrils are proteolytically resistant throughout the sequence, while the acid-grown fibrils prevented digestion primarily in the C-terminal portion of the sequence. Fibrils grown from Aβ 1-42 are generally more resistant to degradation compared to Aβ 1-40. Overall, the results indicate that Aβ fibrils formed in the neutral pH environments found in intracellular or extracellular spaces may pose the greatest difficulty for complete digestion by the lysosome, particularly when the fibrils are comprised of Aβ 1-42.

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