The development of many severe human diseases is associated with the formation of amyloid fibrils. Most of the available information on the process of amyloid formation has been obtained from studies of small proteins and peptides, wherein the features of complex proteins' aggregation remain insufficiently investigated. Our work aimed to research the amyloid aggregation of a large model protein, bovine carbonic anhydrase B (BCAB). It has previously been demonstrated that, when exposed to an acidic pH and elevated temperature, this protein forms amyloid fibrils. Here, we show that, under these conditions and before amyloid formation, BCAB undergoes fragmentation by acid hydrolysis to give free individual peptides and associated peptides. Fragments in associates contain a pronounced secondary structure and act as the main precursor of amyloid fibrils, wherein free peptides adopt mostly unstructured conformation and form predominantly irregular globular aggregates. Reduced acidity decreases the extent of acid hydrolysis, causing BCAB to form amorphous aggregates lacking the thioflavin T binding β-structure. The presented results provide new information on BCAB amyloid formation and show the importance of protein integrity control when working even in mildly acidic conditions.
Keywords: acid hydrolysis; amyloid; carbonic anhydrase; peptides; size-exclusion chromatography.