Mechanical manipulation of Alzheimer's amyloid β1-42 fibrils

Á Karsai, Zs Mártonfalvi, A. Nagy, L. Grama, B. Penke, M. S.Z. Kellermayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Citations (Scopus)


The 39- to 42-residue-long amyloid β-peptide (Aβ-peptide) forms filamentous structures in the neuritic plaques found in the neuropil of Alzheimer's disease patients. The assembly and deposition of Aβ-fibrils is one of the most important factors in the pathogenesis of this neurodegenerative disease. Although the structural analysis of amyloid fibrils is difficult, single-molecule methods may provide unique insights into their characteristics. In the present work, we explored the nanomechanical properties of amyloid fibrils formed from the full-length, most neurotoxic Aβ1-42 peptide, by manipulating individual fibrils with an atomic force microscope. We show that Aβ-subunit sheets can be mechanically unzipped from the fibril surface with constant forces in a reversible transition. The fundamental unzipping force (∼23 pN) was significantly lower than that observed earlier for fibrils formed from the Aβ1-40 peptide (∼33 pN), suggesting that the presence of the two extra residues (Ile and Ala) at the peptide's C-terminus result in a mechanical destabilization of the fibril. Deviations from the constant force transition may arise as a result of geometrical constraints within the fibril caused by its left-handed helical structure. The nanomechanical fingerprint of the Aβ1-42 is further influenced by the structural dynamics of intrafibrillar interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-326
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Structural Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2006


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid fibrils
  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Elasticity
  • β-Sheet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology

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