Kinetics of spherulite formation and growth: salt and protein concentration dependence on proteins beta-lactoglobulin and insulin.


Proteins aggregated into spherulite structures of amyloid fibrils have been observed in patients with certain brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The conditions under which these protein spherulites form and grow are not currently known. In order to illuminate the role of environmental factors on protein spherulites, this research aims to explore the kinetics and mechanisms of spherulite formation and growth, as monitored by optical microscopy, in a range of salt concentrations, and initial protein concentrations for two model proteins: bovine beta-lactoglobulin and insulin. These two proteins are significantly different in their size and fibril growth rate, but both of these proteins have been shown previously to form amyloid fibrils and spherulites under low pH conditions. The growth pattern of spherulites in each protein solution was monitored and quantified using a linear polymerisation reaction model which allowed for quantification of formation and growth rates across experiments. Two themes were found in the experimental results of spherulite formation and growth: the two model protein systems behaved very similarly to one another when viewed on relative scales, and the spherulites in these systems followed trends seen in some of the previous research of amyloid fibril growth. Specifically, in the presence of salt, both beta-lactoglobulin and insulin systems demonstrated maximum growth rates at the same salt concentration, possibly suggesting the role that salt plays in altering rates may not be protein specific (e.g. anion binding to aid unfolding), but may be generic (e.g. electrostatic shielding of repelling charges). Specifically, with variations in the initial protein concentrations, spherulite trends across both model systems were a decrease in appearance time (faster appearance) and an increased growth rate as concentration increased. The appearance time decreased at a diminishing rate towards a limiting shortest appearance time. A limiting shortest appearance time suggests that, in the higher concentrations of protein tested, spherulite formation is not dependent upon the spatial concentration of protein but on the preparedness of the protein to form or join the spherulite.

Cite this paper

@article{Domike2009KineticsOS, title={Kinetics of spherulite formation and growth: salt and protein concentration dependence on proteins beta-lactoglobulin and insulin.}, author={Kristin R Domike and Athene M. Donald}, journal={International journal of biological macromolecules}, year={2009}, volume={44 4}, pages={301-10} }