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The plasma protein transthyretin (TTR), a transporter for thyroid hormones and retinol in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid, is responsible for the second most common type of systemic (ATTR) amyloidosis either in its wild type form or as a result of destabilizing genetic mutations that increase its aggregation propensity. The association between free calcium ions (Ca2+) and TTR is still debated, although recent work seems to suggest that calcium induces structural destabilization of TTR and promotes its aggregation at non-physiological low pH in vitro. We apply high-resolution NMR spectroscopy to investigate calcium binding to TTR showing the formation of labile interactions, which leave the native structure of TTR substantially unaltered. The effect of calcium binding on TTR-enhanced aggregation is also assessed at physiological pH through the mechano-enzymatic mechanism. Our results indicate that, even if the binding is weak, about 7% of TTR is likely to be Ca2+-bound in vivo and therefore more aggregation prone as we have shown that this interaction is able to increase the protein susceptibility to the proteolytic cleavage that leads to aggregation at physiological pH. These events, even if involving a minority of circulating TTR, may be relevant for ATTR, a pathology that takes several decades to develop.


Cristina Cantarutti, Maria Chiara Mimmi, Guglielmo Verona, Walter Mandaliti, Graham W Taylor, P Patrizia Mangione, Sofia Giorgetti, Vittorio Bellotti, Alessandra Corazza. Calcium Binds to Transthyretin with Low Affinity. Biomolecules. 2022 Aug 02;12(8)

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PMID: 36008960

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