Complete phenotypic recovery of an Alzheimer's disease model by a quinone-tryptophan hybrid aggregation inhibitor

Roni Scherzer-Attali, Riccardo Pellarin, Marino Convertino, Anat Frydman-Marom, Nirit Egoz-Matia, Sivan Peled, Michal Levy-Sakin, Deborah E. Shalev, Amedeo Caflisch, Ehud Gazit*, Daniel Segal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


The rational design of amyloid oligomer inhibitors is yet an unmet drug development need. Previous studies have identified the role of tryptophan in amyloid recognition, association and inhibition. Furthermore, tryptophan was ranked as the residue with highest amyloidogenic propensity. Other studies have demonstrated that quinones, specifically anthraquinones, can serve as aggregation inhibitors probably due to the dipole interaction of the quinonic ring with aromatic recognition sites within the amyloidogenic proteins. Here, using in vitro, in vivo and in silico tools we describe the synthesis and functional characterization of a rationally designed inhibitor of the Alzheimer's disease-associated b-amyloid. This compound, 1,4-naphthoquinon-2-yl-L-tryptophan (NQTrp), combines the recognition capacities of both quinone and tryptophan moieties and completely inhibited Ab oligomerization and fibrillization, as well as the cytotoxic effect of Ab oligomers towards cultured neuronal cell line. Furthermore, when fed to transgenic Alzheimer's disease Drosophila model it prolonged their life span and completely abolished their defective locomotion. Analysis of the brains of these flies showed a significant reduction in oligomeric species of Ab while immuno-staining of the 3rd instar larval brains showed a significant reduction in Ab accumulation. Computational studies, as well as NMR and CD spectroscopy provide mechanistic insight into the activity of the compound which is most likely mediated by clamping of the aromatic recognition interface in the central segment of Ab. Our results demonstrate that interfering with the aromatic core of amyloidogenic peptides is a promising approach for inhibiting various pathogenic species associated with amyloidogenic diseases. The compound NQTrp can serve as a lead for developing a new class of disease modifying drugs for Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere11101
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010


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