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Effect of spin labelling on the aggregation kinetics of yeast prion protein Ure2.


Amyloid formation is involved in a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's and prion diseases. Structural understanding of the amyloid is critical to delineate the mechanism of aggregation and its pathological spreading. Site-directed spin labelling has emerged as a powerful structural tool in the studies of amyloid structures and provided structural evidence for the parallel in-register β-sheet structure for a wide range of amyloid proteins. It is generally accepted that spin labelling does not disrupt the structure of the amyloid fibrils, the end product of protein aggregation. The effect on the rate of protein aggregation, however, has not been well characterized. Here, we employed a scanning mutagenesis approach to study the effect of spin labelling on the aggregation rate of 79 spin-labelled variants of the Ure2 prion domain. The aggregation of Ure2 protein is the basis of yeast prion [URE3]. We found that all spin-labelled Ure2 mutants aggregated within the experimental timeframe of 15 to 40 h. Among the 79 spin-labelled positions, only five residue sites (N23, N27, S33, I35 and G42) showed a dramatic delay in the aggregation rate as a result of spin labelling. These positions may be important for fibril nucleation, a rate-limiting step in aggregation. Importantly, spin labelling at most of the sites had a muted effect on Ure2 aggregation kinetics, showing a general tolerance of spin labelling in protein aggregation studies.

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