Ultrasensitive Measurement of Ca(2+) Influx into Lipid Vesicles Induced by Protein Aggregates.

04 Aug 2017

To quantify and characterize the potentially toxic protein aggregates associated with neurodegenerative diseases, a high-throughput assay based on measuring the extent of aggregate-induced Ca(2+) entry into individual lipid vesicles has been developed. This approach was implemented by tethering vesicles containing a Ca(2+) sensitive fluorescent dye to a passivated surface and measuring changes in the fluorescence as a result of membrane disruption using total internal reflection microscopy. Picomolar concentrations of Aβ42 oligomers could be observed to induce Ca(2+) influx, which could be inhibited by the addition of a naturally occurring chaperone and a nanobody designed to bind to the Aβ peptide. We show that the assay can be used to study aggregates from other proteins, such as α-synuclein, and to probe the effects of complex biofluids, such as cerebrospinal fluid, and thus has wide applicability.