The structure of apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), the major protein of HDL, has been extensively studied in past years. Nevertheless, its corresponding three-dimensional structure has been difficult to obtain due to the frequent conformational changes observed depending on the microenvironment. Although the function of each helical segment of this protein remains unclear, it has been observed that the apoA-I amino (N) and carboxy-end (C) domains are directly involved in receptor-recognition, processes that determine the diameter for HDL particles. In addition, it has been observed that the high structural plasticity of these segments might be related to several amyloidogenic processes. In this work, we studied a series of peptides derived from the N- and C-terminal domains representing the most hydrophobic segments of apoA-I. Measurements carried out using circular dichroism in all tested peptides evidenced that the lipid environment promotes the formation of α-helical structures, whereas an aqueous environment facilitates a strong tendency to adopt β-sheet/disordered conformations. Electron microscopy observations showed the formation of amyloid-like structures similar to those found in other well-defined amyloidogenic proteins. Interestingly, when the apoA-I peptides were incubated under conditions that promote stable globular structures, two of the peptides studied were cytotoxic to microglia and mouse macrophage cells. Our findings provide an insight into the physicochemical properties of key segments contained in apoA-I which may be implicated in disorder-to-order transitions that in turn maintain the delicate equilibrium between both, native and abnormal conformations, and therefore control its propensity to become involved in pathological processes.
Última actualización: 24/10/2016