Global Protein Stabilization Does Not Suffice to Prevent Amyloid Fibril Formation
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© 2018 American Chemical Society. Mutations or cellular conditions that destabilize the native protein conformation promote the population of partially unfolded conformations, which in many cases assemble into insoluble amyloid fibrils, a process associated with multiple human pathologies. Therefore, stabilization of protein structures is seen as an efficient way to prevent misfolding and subsequent aggregation. This has been suggested to be the underlying reason why proteins living in harsh environments, such as the extracellular space, have evolved disulfide bonds. The effect of protein disulfides on the thermodynamics and kinetics of folding has been extensively studied, but much less is known on its effect on aggregation reactions. Here, we designed a single point mutation that introduces a disulfide bond in the all-α FF domain, a protein that, despite being devoid of preformed β-sheets, forms β-sheet-rich amyloid fibrils. The novel and unique covalent bond in the FF domain dramatically increases its thermodynamic stability and folding speed. Nevertheless, these optimized properties cannot counteract the inherent aggregation propensity of the protein, thus indicating that a high global protein stabilization does not suffice to prevent amyloid formation unless it contributes to hide from exposure the specific regions that nucleate the aggregation reaction.