Indexed on: 16 Feb '06Published on: 16 Feb '06Published in: Biochemistry
Beta(2)-microglobulin (beta(2)m) forms amyloid fibrils that deposit in the musculo-skeletal system in patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis. How beta(2)m self-assembles in vivo is not understood, since the monomeric wild-type protein is incapable of forming fibrils in isolation in vitro at neutral pH, while elongation of fibril-seeds made from recombinant protein has only been achieved at low pH or at neutral pH in the presence of detergents or cosolvents. Here we describe a systematic study of the effect of 11 physiologically relevant factors on beta(2)m fibrillogenesis at pH 7.0 without denaturants. By comparing the results obtained for the wild-type protein with those of two variants (DeltaN6 and V37A), the role of protein stability in fibrillogenesis is explored. We show that DeltaN6 forms low yields of amyloid-like fibrils at pH 7.0 in the absence of seeds, suggesting that this species could initiate fibrillogenesis in vivo. By contrast, high yields of amyloid-like fibrils are observed for all proteins when assembly is seeded with fibril-seeds formed from recombinant protein at pH 2.5 stabilized by the addition of heparin, serum amyloid P component (SAP), apolipoprotein E (apoE), uremic serum, or synovial fluid. The results suggest that the conditions within the synovium facilitate fibrillogenesis of beta(2)m and show that different physiological factors may act synergistically to promote fibril formation. By comparing the behavior of wild-type beta(2)m with that of DeltaN6 and V37A, we show that the physiologically relevant factors enhance fibrillogenesis by stabilizing fibril-seeds, thereby allowing fibril extension by rare assembly competent species formed by local unfolding of native monomers.