β(25–35) is a fragment of β-amyloid that retains its wild-type properties. N-methylated derivatives of β(25–35) can block hydrogen bonding on the outer edge of the assembling amyloid, so preventing the aggregation and inhibiting the toxicity of the wild-type peptide. The effects are assayed by Congo Red and thioflavin T binding, electron microscopy and an MTT [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide] toxicity assay. N-methyl-Gly-25 has similar properties to the wild-type, while five other methylation sites have varying effects on prefolded fibrils and fibril assembly. In particular, N-methyl-Gly-33 is able to completely prevent fibril assembly and reduces the toxicity of prefolded amyloid. With N-methyl-Leu-34 the fibril morphology is altered and toxicity reduced. A preliminary study of β(25–35) structure in aqueous solution was made by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). The protofibrillar aggregates are best described as a disc of radius 140 å and height 53 å (1 å = 0.1 nm), though the possibility of polydisperse aggregates cannot be ruled out. No aggregates form in the presence of N-methyl-Gly-33. We suggest that the use of N-methylated derivatives of amyloidogenic peptides and proteins could provide a general solution to the problem of amyloid deposition and toxicity and that SANS is an important technique for the direct observation of protofibril formation and destruction in solution.

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