The apolipoprotein (apo) E4 isoform is the strongest risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). ApoE4 is more susceptible to proteolysis than apoE2 and apoE3 isoforms and carboxyl-terminal truncated apoE4 forms have been found in AD patients' brain. We have previously shown that a specific apoE4 fragment, apoE4-165, promotes amyloid-peptide beta 42 (Aβ42) accumulation in human neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells and increased intracellular reactive oxygen species formation, two events considered to occur early in AD pathogenesis. Here, we show that these effects are allele-dependent and absolutely require the apoE4 background. Furthermore, the exact length of the fragment is critical since longer or shorter length carboxyl-terminal truncated apoE4 forms do not elicit the same effects. Structural and thermodynamic analyses showed that apoE4-165 has a compact structure, in contrast to other carboxyl-terminal truncated apoE4 forms that are instead destabilized. Compared however to other allelic backgrounds, apoE4-165 is structurally distinct and less thermodynamically stable suggesting that the combination of a well-folded structure with structural plasticity is a unique characteristic of this fragment. Overall, our findings suggest that the ability of apoE fragments to promote Aβ42 intraneuronal accumulation is specific for both the apoE4 isoform and the particular structural and thermodynamic properties of the fragment.
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© The Author(s) 2016.