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Physiologically-relevant levels of sphingomyelin, but not GM1, induces a β-sheet-rich structure in the amyloid-β(1-42) monomer

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1709-1720
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number9
Early online date1 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


To resolve the contribution of ceramide-containing lipids to the aggregation of the amyloid-β protein into β-sheet rich toxic oligomers, we employed molecular dynamics simulations to study the effect of cholesterol-containing bilayers comprised of POPC (70% POPC, and 30% cholesterol) and physiologically relevant concentrations of sphingomyelin (SM) (30% SM, 40% POPC, and 30% cholesterol), and the GM1 ganglioside (5% GM1, 70% POPC, and 25% cholesterol). The increased bilayer rigidity provided by SM (and to a lesser degree, GM1) reduced the interactions between the SM-enriched bilayer and the N-terminus of Aβ42 (and also residues Ser26, Asn27, and Lys28), which facilitated the formation of a β-sheet in the normally disordered N-terminal region. Aβ42 remained anchored to the SM-enriched bilayer through hydrogen bonds with the side chain of Arg5. With β-sheets in the at the N and C termini, the structure of Aβ42 in the sphingomyelin-enriched bilayer most resembles β-sheet-rich structures found in higher-ordered Aβ fibrils. Conversely, when bound to a bilayer comprised of 5% GM1, the conformation remained similar to that observed in the absence of GM1, with Aβ42 only making contact with one or two GM1 molecules. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Protein Aggregation and Misfolding at the Cell Membrane Interface edited by Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy.

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Amyloid-β peptide, Gangliosides, GM1, Lipid rafts, Membrane simulations, Molecular dynamics, Peptide-ganglioside interactions, Peptide-membrane interactions, Sphingomyelin

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland