Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Incorrectly Folded Fibers

Flash frozen under the electron microscope: examining the mechanical properties of Alzheimer’s amyloid fibrils

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, type-II diabetes, and prion diseases like BSE all involve the deposition of amyloid fibrils in tissues and organs. These are fibrous clumps of incorrectly folded proteins; their exact structures and their roles in pathological processes are not yet completely understood.

By using electron microscopic images of flash frozen samples, researchers have now been able to examine the exact structure of Alzheimer’s amyloid fibrils and to assess their mechanical properties. As the team reports in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the fibrils are very stiff—one of the underlying causes of their pathogenicity.

Because amyloid fibrils are very difficult to analyze with traditional biophysical techniques, Marcus Fändrich (Max Planck Unit for Enzymology of Protein Folding, Halle/Saale, Germany), Carsten Sachse (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK), and Nikolaus Grigorieff (Brandeis University, Waltham, USA) were forced to take another approach: They examined Alzheimer’s amyloid fibrils by electron cryomicroscopy. “These experiments allowed us to examine the structure of the fibrils at a previously unattainable resolution,” explains Fändrich.

The fibrils appear in twisted bands about 20 nm wide and are often bent in the raw electron microscopic images. “These bent fibrils are a snapshot of the fibrils in solution,” says Fändrich. “We use the degree of bending and twisting to calculate how stiff the fibrils are.” This revealed that the Alzheimer’s amyloid fibrils are relatively rigid structures. “The uncontrolled formation of such stiff fibrils is presumably critical for the pathogenicity of amyloid fibrils,” reports Fändrich. “In many amyloid diseases, the fibrils are preferentially deposited in tissues that are normally contractile or elastic, like the heart muscle or the walls of blood vessels. Medical findings indicate that the fibrils somewhat stiffen these tissues.”

“In addition, our data may help to better evaluate the possible uses of amyloid fibers as novel biotechnological agents,” reports Fändrich. Based on their material properties and ease of modification, amyloid fibers are potentially interesting as novel building materials.

Author: Marcus Fändrich, Max Planck Research Unit for Enzymology of Protein Folding, Halle (Germany),

Title: Nanoscale Flexibility Parameters of Alzheimer Amyloid Fibrils Determined by Electron Cryo-Microscopy

Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2010, 49, No. 7, Permalink:

Marcus Fändrich | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>