Amyloid aggregation is linked to a large number of human disorders, from neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer’s
disease (AD) or spongiform encephalopathies to non-neuropathic localized diseases as type II diabetes and cataracts.
Because the formation of insoluble inclusion bodies (IBs) during recombinant protein production in bacteria has
been recently shown to share mechanistic features with amyloid self-assembly, bacteria have emerged as a tool to study
amyloid aggregation. Herein we present a fast, simple, inexpensive and quantitative method for the screening of potential
anti-aggregating drugs. This method is based on monitoring the changes in the binding of thioflavin-S to intracellular IBs
in intact Eschericchia coli cells in the presence of small chemical compounds. This in vivo technique fairly recapitulates
previous in vitro data. Here we mainly use the Alzheimer’s related β-amyloid peptide as a model system, but the technique
can be easily implemented for screening inhibitors relevant for other conformational diseases simply by changing
the recombinant amyloid protein target. Indeed, we show that this methodology can be also applied to the evaluation of
inhibitors of the aggregation of tau protein, another amyloidogenic protein with a key role in AD.
Keywords: Amyloid formation, Alzheimer’s disease, bacterial inclusion bodies, beta-amyloid peptide, conformational diseases,
tau protein, thioflavin-S.
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