Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 1957–1971 | Cite as

Effects of Prion Protein on Aβ42 and Pyroglutamate-Modified AβpΕ3-42 Oligomerization and Toxicity

  • Katiuscia Pagano
  • Denise Galante
  • Cristina D’Arrigo
  • Alessandro Corsaro
  • Mario Nizzari
  • Tullio Florio
  • Henriette Molinari
  • Simona TomaselliEmail author
  • Laura RagonaEmail author


Soluble Aβ oligomers are widely recognized as the toxic forms responsible for triggering AD, and Aβ receptors are hypothesized to represent the first step in a neuronal cascade leading to dementia. Cellular prion protein (PrP) has been reported as a high-affinity binder of Aβ oligomers. The interactions of PrP with both Aβ42 and the highly toxic N-truncated pyroglutamylated species (AβpE3-42) are here investigated, at a molecular level, by means of ThT fluorescence, NMR and TEM. We demonstrate that soluble PrP binds both Aβ42 and AβpE3-42, preferentially interacting with oligomeric species and delaying fibril formation. Residue level analysis of Aβ42 oligomerization process reveals, for the first time, that PrP is able to differently interact with the forming oligomers, depending on the aggregation state of the starting Aβ42 sample. A distinct behavior is observed for Aβ42 1-30 region and C-terminal residues, suggesting that PrP protects Aβ42 N-tail from entangling on the mature NMR-invisible fibril, consistent with the hypothesis that Aβ42 N-tail is the locus of interaction with PrP. PrP/AβpE3-42 interactions are here reported for the first time. All interaction data are validated and complemented by cellular tests performed on Wt and PrP-silenced neuronal cell lines, clearly showing PrP dependent Aβ oligomer cell internalization and toxicity. The ability of soluble PrP to compete with membrane-anchored PrP for binding to Aβ oligomers bears relevance for studies of druggable pathways.


Alzheimer disease Cellular prion protein Amyloid beta peptides Nuclear magnetic resonance Interaction studies Cell internalization 



Alzheimer disease


Cellular prion protein


High monomer content


Low monomer content


Nuclear magnetic resonance




Trasmission electron microscopy


3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolimu bromide


Dimethyl sulfoxide


Funding Information

This work was supported by the Alzheimer Association (NIRG-14-321500 Grant) and CARIPLO Foundation (2015-0503). LR, KP, ST acknowledge financial support of University of Verona (Bando JOINT Projects 2017, Prof. Michael Assfalg - Dr. Laura Ragona). KP, HM and LR acknowledge Fondazione Antonio De Marco for financial support.

Supplementary material

12035_2018_1202_MOESM1_ESM.docx (669 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 668 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Istituto per lo Studio delle Macromolecole (ISMAC)CNRMilanItaly
  2. 2.ISMACCNRGenoaItaly
  3. 3.Section of Pharmacology, Department of Internal Medicine, and Center of Excellence for Biomedical research (CEBR)University of GenoaGenoaItaly

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