AD (Alzheimer's disease) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by self-assembly and amyloid formation of the 39–43 residue long Aβ (amyloid-β)-peptide. The most abundant species, Aβ(1–40) and Aβ(1–42), are both present within senile plaques, but Aβ(1–42) peptides are considerably more prone to self-aggregation and are also essential for the development of AD. To understand the molecular and pathological mechanisms behind AD, a detailed knowledge of the amyloid structures of Aβ-peptides is vital. In the present study we have used quenched hydrogen/deuterium-exchange NMR experiments to probe the structure of Aβ(1–40) fibrils. The fibrils were prepared and analysed identically as in our previous study on Aβ(1–42) fibrils, allowing a direct comparison of the two fibrillar structures. The solvent protection pattern of Aβ(1–40) fibrils revealed two well-protected regions, consistent with a structural arrangement of two β-strands connected with a bend. This protection pattern partly resembles the pattern found in Aβ(1–42) fibrils, but the Aβ(1–40) fibrils display a significantly increased protection for the N-terminal residues Phe4–His14, suggesting that additional secondary structure is formed in this region. In contrast, the C-terminal residues Gly37–Val40 show a reduced protection that suggests a loss of secondary structure in this region and an altered filament assembly. The differences between the present study and other similar investigations suggest that subtle variations in fibril-preparation conditions may significantly affect the fibrillar architecture.

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