Dependence of the Nanoscale Composite Morphology of Fe3O4 Nanoparticle-Infused Lysozyme Amyloid Fibrils on Timing of Infusion: A Combined SAXS and AFM Study

Molecules. 2021 Aug 11;26(16):4864. doi: 10.3390/molecules26164864.


Understanding the formation process and the spatial distribution of nanoparticle (NP) clusters on amyloid fibrils is an essential step for the development of NP-based methods to inhibit aggregation of amyloidal proteins or reverse the assembling trend of the proto-fibrillary complexes that prompts pathogenesis of neuro degeneration. For this, a detailed structural determination of the diverse hybrid assemblies that are forming is needed, which can be achieved by advanced X-ray scattering techniques. Using a combined solution small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) approach, this study investigates the intrinsic trends of the interaction between lysozyme amyloid fibrils (LAFs) and Fe3O4 NPs before and after fibrillization at nanometer resolution. AFM images reveal that the number of NP clusters interacting with the lysozyme fibers does not increase significantly with NP volume concentration, suggesting a saturation in NP aggregation on the fibrillary surface. The data indicate that the number of non-adsorbed Fe3O4 NPs is highly dependent on the timing of NP infusion within the synthesis process. SAXS data yield access to the spatial distribution, aggregation manner and density of NP clusters on the fibrillary surfaces. Employing modern data analysis approaches, the shape and internal structural morphology of the so formed nanocomposites are revealed. The combined experimental approach suggests that while Fe3O4 NPs infusion does not prevent the fibril-formation, the variation of NP concentration and size at different stages of the fibrillization process can impose a pronounced impact on the superficial and internal structural morphologies of these nanocomposites. These findings may be applicable in devising advanced therapeutic treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and designing novel bio-inorganic magnetic devices. Our results further demonstrate that modern X-ray methods give access to the structure of-and insight into the formation process of-biological-inorganic hybrid structures in solution.

Keywords: atomic force microscopy (AFM); biological–nanoparticle hybrid systems; lysozyme amyloid fibrils; nanocomposites; small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS).

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Muramidase / metabolism*
  • Nanocomposites / chemistry*
  • Nanocomposites / ultrastructure
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / ultrastructure
  • Scattering, Small Angle*
  • X-Ray Diffraction*


  • Amyloid
  • Muramidase