Atomic Force Microscopy: The Characterisation of Amyloid Protein Structure in Pathology

Author(s): Maria J.E. Visser, Etheresia Pretorius*.

Journal Name: Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry

Volume 19 , Issue 32 , 2019

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Graphical Abstract:


Abstract:

Proteins are versatile macromolecules that perform a variety of functions and participate in virtually all cellular processes. The functionality of a protein greatly depends on its structure and alterations may result in the development of diseases. Most well-known of these are protein misfolding disorders, which include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as well as type 2 diabetes mellitus, where soluble proteins transition into insoluble amyloid fibrils. Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) is capable of providing a topographical map of the protein and/or its aggregates, as well as probing the nanomechanical properties of a sample. Moreover, AFM requires relatively simple sample preparation, which presents the possibility of combining this technique with other research modalities, such as confocal laser scanning microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and stimulated emission depletion microscopy. In this review, the basic principles of AFM are discussed, followed by a brief overview of how it has been applied in biological research. Finally, we focus specifically on its use as a characterisation method to study protein structure at the nanoscale in pathophysiological conditions, considering both molecules implicated in disease pathogenesis and the plasma protein fibrinogen. In conclusion, AFM is a userfriendly tool that supplies multi-parametric data, rendering it a most valuable technique.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Protein structure, Amyloid, Disease, Correlative microscopy, NMR.

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