Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are associated with inappropriate protein deposition and ordered amyloid fibril assembly. Molecular chaperones, including ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ±B-crystallin, play a role in the prevention of protein deposition.
A series of site-directed mutants of the human molecular chaperone, ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ±B-crystallin, were constructed which focused on the flexible C-terminal extension of the protein. We investigated the structural role of this region as well as its role in the chaperone function of ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ±B-crystallin under different types of protein aggregation, i.e. disordered amorphous aggregation and ordered amyloid fibril assembly. It was found that mutation of lysine and glutamic acid residues in the C-terminal extension of ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ±B-crystallin resulted in proteins that had improved chaperone activity against amyloid fibril forming target proteins compared to the wild-type protein.
Together, our results highlight the important role of the C-terminal region of ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ±B-crystallin in regulating its secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure and conferring thermostability to the protein. The capacity to genetically modify ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ±B-crystallin for improved ability to block amyloid fibril formation provides a platform for the future use of such engineered molecules in treatment of diseases caused by amyloid fibril formation.