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Journal Title

International Journal of Molecular Science

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The self-assembly of amyloid β (Aβ) proteins into oligomers is the major pathogenic event leading to Alzheimer's disease (AD). Typical in vitro experiments require high protein concentrations, whereas the physiological concentration of Aβ is in the picomolar to low nanomolar range. This complicates the translation of results obtained in vitro to understanding the aggregation process in vivo. Here, we demonstrate that Aβ42 self-assembles into aggregates on membrane bilayers at low nanomolar concentrations - a pathway in which the membrane plays the role of a catalyst. Additionally, physiological ionic conditions (150 mM NaCl) significantly enhance on-membrane aggregation, leading to the rapid formation of oligomers. The self-assembly process is reversible, so assembled aggregates can dissociate from the membrane surface into the bulk solution to further participate in the aggregation process. Molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate that the transient membrane-Aβ interaction dramatically changes the protein conformation, facilitating the assembly of dimers. The results indicate peptide-membrane interaction is the critical step towards oligomer formation at physiologically low protein concentrations.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.