Branched-Chain Amino Acid Assembly into Amyloid-like Fibrils Provides a New Paradigm for Maple Syrup Urine Disease Pathology

Topaz Kreiser, Ilana Sogolovsky-Bard, Dor Zaguri, Shira Shaham-Niv, Dana Laor Bar-Yosef, Ehud Gazit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inborn error of metabolism disorders (IEMs) are a family of diseases resulting from single-gene mutations that lead to the accumulation of metabolites that are usually toxic or interfere with normal cell function. The etiological link between metabolic alteration and the symptoms of IEMs is still elusive. Several metabolites, which accumulate in IEMs, were shown to self-assemble to form ordered structures. These structures display the same biophysical, biochemical, and biological characteristics as proteinaceous amyloid fibrils. Here, we have demonstrated, for the first time, the ability of each of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that accumulate in maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) to self-assemble into amyloid-like fibrils depicted by characteristic morphology, binding to indicative amyloid-specific dyes and dose-dependent cytotoxicity by a late apoptosis mechanism. We could also detect the presence of the assemblies in living cells. In addition, by employing several in vitro techniques, we demonstrated the ability of known polyphenols to inhibit the formation of the BCAA fibrils. Our study implies that BCAAs possess a pathological role in MSUD, extends the paradigm-shifting concept regarding the toxicity of metabolite amyloid-like structures, and suggests new pathological targets that may lead to highly needed novel therapeutic opportunities for this orphan disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15999
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • BCAAs
  • MSUD pathology
  • amyloid-like structures
  • metabolite amyloids
  • metabolostasis
  • polyphenols
  • self-assembly


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