Indexed on: 30 Aug '16Published on: 30 Aug '16Published in: Journal of Molecular Biology
Light chain amyloidosis (AL amyloidosis) appears to be caused by the aggregation of an antibody light chain (LC) or fragment thereof, and is fatal if untreated. LCs are secreted from clonally expanded plasma cells as disulfide-linked dimers, with each monomer comprising one constant and one variable domain. The energetic contribution of each domain and the role of endoproteolysis in AL amyloidosis remain unclear. To investigate why only some LCs form amyloid and cause organ toxicity, we measured the aggregation propensity and kinetic stability of LC dimers and associated variable domains from AL amyloidosis patients and non-patients. All the variable domains studied readily form amyloid fibrils, whereas none of the full-length LC dimers, even those from AL amyloidosis patients, are amyloidogenic. Kinetic stability-that is, the free energy difference between the native state and the unfolding transition state-dictates the LC's unfolding rate. Full-length LC dimers derived from AL amyloidosis patients unfold more rapidly than other full-length LC dimers and can be readily cleaved into their component domains by proteases, whereas non-amyloidogenic LC dimers are more kinetically stable and resistant to endoproteolysis. Our data suggest that amyloidogenic LC dimers are kinetically unstable (unfold faster) and thus are susceptible to endoproteolysis that results in the release amyloidogenic LC fragments, whereas other LCs are not as amenable to unfolding and endoproteolysis and are therefore aggregation resistant. Pharmacologic kinetic stabilization of the full-length LC dimer could be a useful strategy to treat AL amyloidosis.