Molecular Mechanism for the (−)-Epigallocatechin Gallate-Induced Toxic to Nontoxic Remodeling of Aβ Oligomers
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(-)-Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) effectively reduces the cytotoxicity of the Alzheimer's disease β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) by remodeling seeding-competent Aβ oligomers into off-pathway seeding-incompetent Aβ assemblies. However, the mechanism of EGCG-induced remodeling is not fully understood. Here we combine 15N and 1H dark-state exchange saturation transfer (DEST), relaxation, and chemical shift projection NMR analyses with fluorescence, dynamic light scattering, and electron microscopy to elucidate how EGCG remodels Aβ oligomers. We show that the remodeling adheres to a Hill-Scatchard model whereby the Aβ(1-40) self-association occurs cooperatively and generates Aβ(1-40) oligomers with multiple independent binding sites for EGCG with a Kd ∼10-fold lower than that for the Aβ(1-40) monomers. Upon binding to EGCG, the Aβ(1-40) oligomers become less solvent exposed, and the β-regions, which are involved in direct monomer-protofibril contacts in the absence of EGCG, undergo a direct-to-tethered contact shift. This switch toward less engaged monomer-protofibril contacts explains the seeding incompetency observed upon EGCG remodeling and suggests that EGCG interferes with secondary nucleation events known to generate toxic Aβ assemblies. Unexpectedly, the N-terminal residues experience an opposite EGCG-induced shift from tethered to direct contacts, explaining why EGCG remodeling occurs without release of Aβ(1-40) monomers. We also show that upon binding Aβ(1-40) oligomers the relative positions of the EGCG B and D rings change with respect to that of ring A. These distinct structural changes occurring in both Aβ(1-40) oligomers and EGCG during remodeling offer a foundation for understanding the molecular mechanism of EGCG as a neurotoxicity inhibitor. Furthermore, the results reported here illustrate the effectiveness of DEST-based NMR approaches in investigating the mechanism of low-molecular-weight amyloid inhibitors.
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