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Disrupting Dimeric β-Amyloid by Electric Fields

P.A. Vargas-Rosales; A. DAddio; Y. Zhang; A. Caflisch

Journal: ACS Phy. Chem. Au
Year: 2023
Volume: 3
Issue: 5
Pages: 456–466
Type of Publication: Journal Article

AlphaFold; Alzheimer; disordered proteins; electric fields; molecular dynamics; SAPPHIRE


The early oligomers of the amyloid Aβ peptide are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, but their transient nature complicates the characterization of their structure and toxicity. Here, we investigate the stability of the minimal toxic species, i.e., β-amyloid dimers, in the presence of an oscillating electric field. We first use deep learning (AlphaFold-multimer) for generating initial models of Aβ42 dimers. The flexibility and secondary structure content of the models are then analyzed by multiple runs of molecular dynamics (MD). Structurally stable models are similar to ensemble representatives from microsecond-long MD sampling. Finally, we employ the validated model as the starting structure of MD simulations in the presence of an external oscillating electric field and observe a fast decay of β-sheet content at high field strengths. Control simulations using the helical dimer of the 42-residue leucine zipper peptide show higher structural stability than the Aβ42 dimer. The simulation results provide evidence that an external electric field (oscillating at 1 GHz) can disrupt amyloid oligomers which should be further investigated by experiments with brain organoids in vitro and eventually in vivo.