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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Alzheimer's Aβ42 and Aβ40 form mixed oligomers with direct molecular interactions.

  • Author(s): Gu, Lei
  • Guo, Zhefeng
  • et al.

Formation of Aβ oligomers and fibrils plays a central role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. There are two major forms of Aβ in the brain: Aβ42 and Aβ40. Aβ42 is the major component of the amyloid plaques, but the overall abundance of Aβ40 is several times that of Aβ42. In vitro experiments show that Aβ42 and Aβ40 affect each other's aggregation. In mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, overexpression of Aβ40 has been shown to reduce the plaque pathology, suggesting that Aβ42 and Aβ40 also interact in vivo. Here we address the question of whether Aβ42 and Aβ40 interact with each other in the formation of oligomers using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. When the Aβ42 oligomers were formed using only spin-labeled Aβ42, the dipolar interaction between spin labels that are within 20 Å range broadened the EPR spectrum and reduced its amplitude. Oligomers formed with a mixture of spin-labeled Aβ42 and wild-type Aβ42 gave an EPR spectrum with higher amplitude due to weakened spin-spin interactions, suggesting molecular mixing of labeled and wild-type Aβ42. When spin-labeled Aβ42 and wild-type Aβ40 were mixed to form oligomers, the resulting EPR spectrum also showed reduced amplitude, suggesting that wild-type Aβ40 can also form oligomers with spin-labeled Aβ42. Therefore, our results suggest that Aβ42 and Aβ40 form mixed oligomers with direct molecular interactions. Our results point to the importance of investigating Aβ42-Aβ40 interactions in the brain for a complete understanding of Alzheimer's pathogenesis and therapeutic interventions.

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