The α-Synuclein Monomer May Have Different Misfolding Mechanisms in the Induction of α-Synuclein Fibrils with Different Polymorphs

Nannan Zhao, Qianqian Zhang, Fansen Yu, Xiaojun Yao, Huanxiang Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aggregation of alpha-synuclein (α-Syn) is closely related to the occurrence of some neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. The misfolding of α-Syn monomer plays a key role in the formation of aggregates and extension of fibril. However, the misfolding mechanism of α-Syn remains elusive. Here, three different α-Syn fibrils (isolated from a diseased human brain, generated by in vitro cofactor-tau induction, and obtained by in vitro cofactor-free induction) were selected for the study. The misfolding mechanisms of α-Syn were uncovered by studying the dissociation of the boundary chains based on the conventional molecular dynamics (MD) and Steered MD simulations. The results showed that the dissociation paths of the boundary chains in the three systems were different. According to the reverse process of dissociation, we concluded that in the human brain system, the binding of the monomer and template starts from the C-terminal and gradually misfolds toward the N-terminal. In the cofactor-tau system, the monomer binding starts from residues 58–66 (contain β3), followed by the C-terminal coil (residues 67–79). Then, the N-terminal coil (residues 36–41) and residues 50–57 (contain β2) bind to the template, followed by residues 42–49 (contain β1). In the cofactor-free system, two misfolding paths were found. One is that the monomer binds to the N/C-terminal (β1/β6) and then binds to the remaining residues. The other one is that the monomer binds sequentially from the C- to N-terminal, similar to the human brain system. Furthermore, in the human brain and cofactor-tau systems, electrostatic interactions (especially from residues 58–66) are the main driving force during the misfolding process, whereas in the cofactor-free system, the contributions of electrostatic and van der Waals interactions are comparable. These results may provide a deeper understanding for the misfolding and aggregation mechanism of α-Syn.

Original languageEnglish
Article number682
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • DCCM
  • residue interaction network
  • secondary structure analysis
  • steered MD simulation
  • template-induced misfolding
  • α-synuclein fibrils


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