In a JACS paper entitled "α-Helix Mimetics as Modulators of Aβ Self-Assembly," the Hamilton Group presents the design of drug-like molecules which prevent the aggregation of Aβ peptide, a process associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia affecting ~44 million people worldwide without any cure. In this paper, Professor Andrew Hamilton and postdoctoral fellow Sunil Kumar demonstrate a novel strategy which will aid in developing lead compounds for the prevention/cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Abstract: A key molecular species in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the Aβ42 alloform of Aβ peptide, which is dominant in the amyloid plaques deposited in the brains of AD patients. Recent studies have decisively demonstrated that the prefibrillar soluble oligomers are the neurotoxic culprits and are associated with the pathology of AD. Nascent Aβ42 is predominantly disordered but samples α-helical conformations covering residues 15–24 and 29–35 in the presence of micelles and structure-inducing solvents. In this report, a focused library of oligopyridylamide based α-helical mimetics was designed to target the central α-helix subdomain of Aβ (Aβ13–26). A tripyridylamide, ADH-41, was identified as one of the most potent antagonists of Aβ fibrillation. Amyloid-assembly kinetics, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and atomic force microscopy (AFM) show that ADH-41 wholly suppresses the aggregation of Aβ at a substoichiometric dose. Dot blot and ELISA assays demonstrate the inhibition of the putative neurotoxic Aβ oligomers. ADH-41 targets Aβ in a sequence and structure-specific manner, as it did not have any effect on the aggregation of islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP), a peptide which shares sequence similarity with Aβ. Spectroscopic studies using NMR and CD confirm induction of α-helicity in Aβ mediated by ADH-41. Calorimetric and fluorescence titrations yielded binding affinity in the low micromolar range. ADH-41 was also effective at inhibiting the seed-catalyzed aggregation of Aβ probably by modulating the Aβ conformation into a fiber incompetent structure. Overall, we speculate that ADH-41 directs Aβ into off-pathway structures, and thereby alters various solution based functions of Aβ. Cell-based assays to assess the effect of ADH-41 on Aβ are underway and will be presented in due course.