Perlecan Binds to the β-Amyloid Proteins (Aβ) of Alzheimer's Disease, Accelerates Aβ Fibril Formation, and Maintains Aβ Fibril Stability


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. A. D. Snow at University of Washington, Department of Pathology, Neuropathology Laboratories, Box 356480, Seattle, WA 98195-6480, U.S.A.


Abstract: Perlecan is a specific heparan sulfate proteoglycan that accumulates in the fibrillar β-amyloid (Aβ) deposits of Alzheimer's disease. Perlecan purified from the Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm tumor was used to define perlecan's interactions with Aβ and its effects on Aβ fibril formation. Using a solid-phase binding immunoassay, freshly solubilized full-length Aβ peptides bound immobilized perlecan at two sites, representing both high-affinity [KD = ∼5.8 × 10−11M for Aβ (1–40); KD = ∼6.5 × 10−12M for Aβ (1–42)] and lower-affinity [KD = 3.5 × 10−8M for Aβ (1–40); KD = 4.3 × 10−8M for Aβ (1–42)] interactions. An increase in the binding capacity of Aβ (1–40) to perlecan correlated with an increase in Aβ amyloid fibril formation during a 1-week incubation period. The high-capacity binding of Aβ (1–40) to perlecan was similarly observed using perlecan heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans and was completely abolished by heparin, but not by chondroitin-4-sulfate. Using a thioflavin T fluorometry assay, perlecan accelerated the rate of Aβ (1–40) amyloid fibril formation, causing a significant increase in Aβ fibril assembly over a 2-week incubation period at 1 h (2.8-fold increase), 1 day (3.6-fold increase), and 3 days (2.8-fold increase) in comparison with Aβ (1–40) alone. Perlecan also initially accelerated the formation of Aβ (1–42) fibrils within 1 h and maintained significantly higher levels of Aβ (1–42) thioflavin T fluorescence throughout a 2-week experimental period in comparison with Aβ (1–42) alone, suggesting perlecan's ability to maintain amyloid fibril stability. Perlecan's effects on Aβ (1–40) fibril formation and maintenance of Aβ (1–42) fibril stability occurred in a dose-dependent manner and was also mediated primarily by perlecan's glycosaminoglycan chains. Perlecan was the most effective enhancer and accelerator of Aβ fibril formation when compared directly with other amyloid plaque components, including apolipoprotein E, α1-antichymotrypsin, P component, C1q, and C3. This study, therefore, demonstrates that perlecan not only binds to the predominant isoforms of Aβ, but also accelerates Aβ fibril formation and stabilizes amyloid fibrils once formed, confirming pivotal roles for perlecan in the pathogenesis of Aβ amyloidosis in Alzheimer's disease.

Abbreviations used: Aβ, β-amyloid; AD, Alzheimer's disease; ApoE, apolipoprotein E; EHS, Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm; GAG, glycosaminoglycan; HS, heparan sulfate; HSPG, heparan sulfate proteoglycan; PG, proteoglycan; TBS, Tris-buffered saline; TTBS, Trisbuffered saline containing Tween 20.