The importance of a gatekeeper residue on the aggregation of transthyretin implications for transthyretin-related amyloidoses

Ricardo Sant'Anna, Carolina Braga, Nathalia Varejão, Karinne M. Pimenta, Ricardo Granã-Montes, Aline Alves, Juliana Cortines, Yraima Cordeiro, Salvador Ventura, Debora Foguel

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21 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014, by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc. Protein aggregation into β-sheet-enriched amyloid fibrils is associated with an increasing number of human disorders. The adoption of such amyloid conformations seems to constitute a generic property of polypeptide chains. Therefore, during evolution, proteins have adopted negative design strategies to diminish their intrinsic propensity to aggregate, including enrichment of gatekeeper charged residues at the flanks of hydrophobic aggregation-prone segments. Wild type transthyretin (TTR) is responsible for senile systemic amyloidosis, and more than 100 mutations in the TTR gene are involved in familial amyloid polyneuropathy. The TTR 26-57 segment bears many of these aggressive amyloidogenic mutations as well as the binding site for heparin. We demonstrate here that Lys-35 acts as a gatekeeper residue in TTR, strongly decreasing its amyloidogenic potential. This protective effect is sequence-specific because Lys-48 does not affect TTR aggregation. Lys-35 is part of the TTR basic heparin-binding motif. This glycosaminoglycan blocks the protective effect of Lys-35, probably by neutralization of its side chain positive charge. A K35L mutation emulates this effect and results in the rapid self-assembly of the TTR 26-57 region into amyloid fibrils. This mutation does not affect the tetrameric protein stability, but it strongly increases its aggregation propensity. Overall, we illustrate how TTR is yet another amyloidogenic protein exploiting negative design to prevent its massive aggregation, and we show how blockage of conserved protective features by endogenous factors or mutations might result in increased disease susceptibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28324-28337
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2014


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