Institute of Crystallography - CNR

Nerve growth factor peptides bind copper(Ii) with high affinity: A thermodynamic approach to unveil overlooked neurotrophin roles

Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a protein essential to neurons survival, which interacts with its receptor as a non-covalent dimer. Peptides belonging to NGF N-terminal domain are able to mimic the activity of the whole protein. Such activity is affected by the presence of copper ions. The metal is released in the synaptic cleft where proteins, not yet identified, may bind and transfer to human copper transporter 1 (hCtr1), for copper uptake in neurons. The measurements of the stability constants of copper complexes formed by amyloid beta and hCtr1 peptide fragments suggest that beta-amyloid (A?) can perform this task. In this work, the stability constant values of copper complex species formed with the dimeric form of N-terminal domain, sequence 1-15 of the protein, were determined by means of potentiometric measurements. At physiological pH, NGF peptides bind one equivalent of copper ion with higher affinity of A? and lower than hCtr1 peptide frag-ments. Therefore, in the synaptic cleft, NGF may act as a potential copper chelating molecule, ion-ophore or chaperone for hCtr1 for metal uptake. Copper dyshomeostasis and mild acidic environment may modify the balance between metal, NGF, and A?, with consequences on the metal cellular uptake and therefore be among causes of the Alzheimer’s disease onset.

International journal of molecular sciences (Print)
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Magri A.; La Mendola D.; Rizzarelli E.
Authors IC CNR