Structural and functional properties of transthyretin
The hereditary transthyretin (TTR) amyloidoses are rare, and in severe cases, fatal disorders caused by mutations in the TTR gene. The clinical picture is diverse, involving neuropathies and myopathies, and mainly depends on the causative mutation and the sites and rates of amyloid deposition. The ultimate aim of the field of research presented in this thesis is to prevent TTR amyloid disease. To reach this ambitious goal, a thorough understanding of the normal as well as the pathological properties of the protein is essential. Here, comparisons between TTR from humans and other species may provide valuable information.The three-dimensional structure of TTR from Gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata) was determined at 1.75 Å resolution by X-ray crystallography, and was found to be structurally similar to human TTR. However, significant differences were observed in the area at and around ?-strand D, an area believed to dissociate from the structure prior to amyloid formation, thereby allowing the ?-strands A and B to participate in polymerization. During evolution, the preference of TTR for the thyroid hormones, 3,5,3’-triiodo-L-thyronine (T3) and 3,5,3’,5’-tetraiodo-L-thyronine (T4), has shifted. While human TTR has higher affinity for T4, the opposite is true in lower vertebrates, e.g. fish and reptiles, where T3 is the main ligand. We have determined two separate structures of sea bream TTR in complex with T3 and T4, both at 1.9 Å resolution, as well as the complex of human TTR with T3. A significantly wider entrance and narrower thyroid hormone binding channel suggest a structural explanation to the differences in thyroid hormone preference between human and piscine TTR.The Tyr114Cys substitution in TTR is associated with severe systemic amyloidosis. The mutation introduces a second cysteinyl group in the TTR monomer, and has been shown to inhibit the formation of fibril formation in vitro, promoting the formation of disulfide-bonded amorphous aggregates. To deduce the role of intermolecular disulfide bonds in fibril formation we characterized the TTR Cys10Ala/Tyr114Cys double mutant. Our results suggest that an intermolecular disulfide bond at position 114 enhances the exposure of Cys10, which promotes the formation of additional intermolecular disulfide-linked assemblies. Also, we were able to isolate a disulfide-linked dimeric form of this mutant that formed protofibrils in vitro, suggesting the architecture of TTR amyloid may be the result of different underlying structures rather than that of a highly stringent assembly.We have also been able to successfully adapt a method of protein pre-heating to enable crystallization, thereby succeeding in a particularly problematic protein crystallization experiment. By heating the protein solution, we succeeded in separating several forms of protein micro-heterogeneities from the properly folded protein species, thereby allowing the growth of well diffracting crystals.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Chemistry; Biochemistry; Structural biology; Transthyretin; Amyloidosis; X-ray crystallography; Protein structure; Protein
Date of Publication:01/01/2008