The polyglutamine (polyQ)-containing protein ataxin-3 (AT3) triggers the neurodegenerative disease spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3) when its polyQ tract is expanded beyond a critical length. This results in protein aggregation and generation of toxic oligomers and fibrils. Currently, no effective treatment is available for such and other polyQ diseases. Therefore, plenty of investigations are being carried on to assess the mechanism of action and the therapeutic potential of anti-amyloid agents. The polyphenol compound epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and tetracycline have been shown to exert some effect in preventing fibrillogenesis of amyloidogenic proteins. Here, we have incubated an expanded AT3 variant with either compound to assess their effects on the aggregation pattern. The process was monitored by atomic force microscopy and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Whereas in the absence of any treatment, AT3 gives rise to amyloid β-rich fibrils, whose hallmark is the typical glutamine side-chain hydrogen bonding, when incubated in the presence of EGCG it generated soluble, SDS-resistant aggregates, much poorer in β-sheets and devoid of any ordered side-chain hydrogen bonding. These are off-pathway species that persist until the latest incubation time and are virtually absent in the control sample. In contrast, tetracycline did not produce major alterations in the structural features of the aggregated species compared with the control, but substantially increased their solubility. Both compounds significantly reduced toxicity, as shown by the MTT assay in COS-7 cell line and in a transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans strain expressing in the nervous system an AT3 expanded variant in fusion with GFP.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: email@example.com.