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Amyloid β-Protein: Monomer Structure and Early Aggregation States of Aβ42 and Its Pro19 Alloform

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The amyloid beta-protein (Abeta) is a seminal neuropathic agent in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recent evidence points to soluble Abeta oligomers as the probable neurotoxic species. Among the naturally occurring Abeta peptides, the 42-residue form Abeta42 is linked particularly strongly with AD, even though it is produced at approximately 10% of the levels of the more abundant 40-residue form Abeta40. Here, we apply mass spectrometry and ion mobility to the study of Abeta42 and its Pro19 alloform. The Phe19 --> Pro19 substitution blocks fibril formation by [Pro19]Abeta42. Evidence indicates that solution-like structures of Abeta monomers are electrosprayed and characterized. Unfiltered solutions of Abeta42 produce only monomers and large oligomers, whereas [Pro19]Abeta42 solutions produce abundant monomers, dimers, trimers, and tetramers but no large oligomers. When passed through a 10,000 amu filter and immediately sampled, Abeta42 solutions produce monomers, dimers, tetramers, hexamers, and an aggregate of two hexamers that may be the first step in protofibril formation. These results are consistent with recently published photochemical cross-linking data and lend support to recent aggregation mechanisms proposed by Bitan, Teplow, and co-workers [J. Biol. Chem. 2003, 278, 34882-34889].

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