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Physics and Astronomy


Despite enormous efforts, our understanding the structure and dynamics of α-synuclein (ASN), a disordered protein (that plays a key role in neurodegenerative disease) is far from complete. In order to better understand sequence-structure-property relationships in α-SYNUCLEIN we have developed a coarse-grained model using knowledge-based residue-residue interactions and used it to study the structure of free ASN as a function of temperature (T) with a large-scale Monte Carlo simulation. Snapshots of the simulation and contour contact maps show changes in structure formation due to self-assembly as a function of temperature. Variations in the residue mobility profiles reveal clear distinction among three segments along the protein sequence. The N-terminal (1-60) and C-terminal (96-140) regions contain the least mobile residues, which are separated by the higher mobility non-amyloid component (NAC) (61-95). Our analysis of the intra-protein contact profile shows a higher frequency of residue aggregation (clumping) in the N-terminal region relative to that in the C-terminal region, with little or no aggregation in the NAC region. The radius of gyration (Rg) of ASN decays monotonically with decreasing the temperature, consistent with the finding of Allison et al. (JACS, 2009). Our analysis of the structure function provides an insight into the mass (N) distribution of ASN, and the dimensionality (D) of the structure as a function of temperature. We find that the globular structure with D3 at low T, a random coil, D ≈ 2 at high T and in between (2 ≤ D ≤ 3) at the intermediate temperatures. The magnitudes of D are in agreement with experimental estimates (J. Biological Chem 2002).

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AIP Advances





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