An amyloidogenic hexapeptide from the cataract-associated γD-crystallin is a model for the full-length protein and is inhibited by naphthoquinone-tryptophan hybrids

Malak Abu-Hussien, Guru Krishna Kumar Viswanathan, Esraa Haj, Ashim Paul, Ehud Gazit, Daniel Segal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The eye lens is rich in proteins called crystallins, whose native conformation is crucial for preserving its transparency. With aging, crystallins may be exposed to environmental changes, which could lead to their aggregation and eventually to cataract development. Human γD-crystallin, among the most abundantly expressed γ-crystallins in the lens, was shown to form amyloid aggregates under denaturing conditions in vitro. However, the exact mechanism of aggregation remains to be clearly defined. Here, using prediction algorithms and biophysical methods, we identified a hexapeptide 41GCWMLY46 as a most aggregative fragment in human γD-crystallin. Two aromatic naphthoquinone-tryptophan hybrid molecules (NQTrp and Cl-NQTrp), inhibited the in vitro aggregation of this hexapeptide as well as full-length γD-crystallin in a dose-dependent manner, plausibly facilitated by hydrogen bonding and aromatic contacts with the hydrophobic residues. The two compounds had no toxic effect toward retinal cell culture and reduced the cytotoxicity induced by aggregates of the hexapeptide. In addition, NQTrp and Cl-NQTrp were able to disassemble pre-formed aggregates of the hexapeptide and the full-length γD-crystallin. Our results indicate that the amyloidogenic hexapeptide is a useful model for screening inhibitors of γD-crystallin and that the NQTrp hybrid scaffolds may serve as leads for developing new drugs for treating cataract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-433
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules
Volume157
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • Amyloid aggregation
  • Inhibition
  • Naphthoquinone-tryptophan
  • Peptide
  • γD-crystallin

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