There is a strong body of evidence linking the non-protein amino acid (NPAA) β-methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) to the development of a number of neurodegenerative diseases. BMAA has been found globally, is produced by a number of organisms including cyanobacteria, diatoms, and dinoflagellates; and has been shown to biomagnify through trophic levels. The role of BMAA in neurodegenerative disease is highlighted by its presence in the brains of a number of neurodegenerative disease patients, where it was found in a protein-bound form. We have previously shown that BMAA is bound to cell proteins, and results in the upregulation of the unfolded protein response, an endoplasmic reticulum stress response activated by the presence of misfolded proteins within the cell. Structurally aberrant proteins are features of a number of neurodegenerative diseases, and further investigation of how BMAA interacts with proteins is crucial to our understanding of its toxicity. Here we use radiolabelled BMAA to investigate the interaction and binding of BMAA to eukaryotic and prokaryotic proteins. We found differences in the presence and distribution of protein-bound BMAA between E. coli and neuroblastoma cells, with an increase in binding over time only seen in the eukaryotic cells. We also found that BMAA was unable to bind to pure proteins, or cell lysate in native or denaturing conditions, indicating that biological processing is required for BMAA to bind to proteins.
Amino Acids – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 12, 2017
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