Aggregation of amyloid-β (Aβ) proteins in the brain is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. This phenomenon can be promoted or inhibited by adding small molecules to the solution where Aβ is embedded. These molecules affect the ensemble of conformations sampled by Aβ monomers even before aggregation starts. Here, we perform extensive all-atom replica exchange molecular dynamics (REMD) simulations to provide a comparative study of the ensemble of conformations sampled by Aβ42 monomers in solutions that promote (i.e., aqueous solution containing NaCl) and inhibit (i.e., aqueous solutions containing scyllo-inositol or 4-aminophenol) aggregation. Simulations performed in pure water are used as our reference. We find that secondary-structure content is only affected in an antagonistic manner by promoters and inhibitors at the C-terminus and the central hydrophilic core. Moreover, the end of the C-terminus binds more favorably to the central hydrophobic core region of Aβ42 in NaCl adopting a type of strand-loop-strand structure that is disfavored by inhibitors. Nonpolar residues that form the dry core of larger aggregates of Aβ42 (e.g., PDB ID 2BEG) are found at close proximity in these strand-loop-strand structures, suggesting that their formation could play an important role in initiating nucleation. In the presence of inhibitors, the C-terminus binds the central hydrophilic core with a higher probability than in our reference simulation. This sensitivity of the C-terminus, which is affected in an antagonistic manner by inhibitors and promoters, provides evidence for its critical role in accounting for aggregation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry