The von Hippel-Lindau protein forms fibrillar amyloid assemblies that are mitigated by the anti-amyloid molecule Purpurin

Vijay Kumar, Vibha Kaushik, Sourav Kumar, Shon A. Levkovich, Priya Gupta, Dana Laor Bar-Yosef, Ehud Gazit, Daniel Segal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The von Hippel-Lindau protein (pVHL) is a tumor suppressor involved in oxygen regulation via dynamic nucleocytoplasmic shuttling. It plays a crucial role in cell survival by degrading hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs). Mutations in the VHL gene cause angiogenic tumors, characterized as VHL syndrome. However, aggressive tumors involving wild-type pVHL have also been described but the underlying mechanism remains to be revealed. We have previously shown that pVHL possesses several short amyloid-forming motifs, making it aggregation-prone. In this study, using a series of biophysical assays, we demonstrated that a pVHL-derived fragment (pVHL104-140) that harbors the nuclear export motif and HIF binding site, forms amyloid-like fibrillar structures in vitro by following secondary-nucleation-based kinetics. The peptide also formed amyloids at acidic pH that mimics the tumor microenvironment. We, subsequently, validated the amyloid formation by pVHL in vitro. Using the Curli-dependent amyloid generator (C-DAG) expression system, we confirmed the amyloidogenesis of pVHL in bacterial cells. The pVHL amyloids are an attractive target for therapeutics of the VHL syndrome. Accordingly, we demonstrated in vitro that Purpurin is a potent inhibitor of pVHL fibrillation. The amyloidogenic behavior of wild-type pVHL and its inhibition provide novel insights into the molecular underpinning of the VHL syndrome and its possible treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number149250
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Amyloid
  • Amyloid inhibitor
  • Clear cell renal cell carcinoma
  • Hypoxia
  • Tumor suppressor protein
  • von Hippel-Lindau syndrome


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