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PAPER

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Abstract

    Viscoelastic liquid coacervate phases that are highly enriched in nonconjugated polyelectrolytes are currently the subject of highly active research from biological and soft-materials perspectives. However, formation of a liquid, electronically active coacervate has proved highly elusive, since extended π-electron interactions strongly favor the solid state. Herein we show that a conjugated polyelectrolyte can be rationally designed to undergo aqueous liquid/liquid phase separation to form a liquid coacervate phase. This result is significant both because it adds to the fundamental understanding of liquid/liquid phase separation but also because it opens intriguing applications in light harvesting and beyond. We find that the semiconducting coacervate is intrinsically excitonically coupled, allowing for long-range exciton diffusion in a strongly correlated, fluctuating environment. The emergent excitonic states are comprised of both excimers and H-aggregates.

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Abstract

  Amyloid aggregation is a key feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and a primary target for past and present therapeutic efforts. Recent research is making it increasingly clear that the heterogeneity of amyloid deposits, extending past the commonly targeted amyloid-β (Aβ), must be considered for successful therapy. We recently demonstrated that amyloid-α (Aα or p3), a C-terminal peptidic fragment of Aβ, aggregates rapidly to form amyloids and can expedite the aggregation of Aβ through seeding. Here, we advance the understanding of Aα biophysics and biology in several important ways. We report the first cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of an Aα amyloid fibril, proving unambiguously that the peptide is fibrillogenic. We demonstrate that Aα induces Aβ to form amyloid aggregates that are less toxic than pure Aβ aggregates and use nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) to provide insights into specific interactions between Aα and Aβ in solution. This is the first evidence that Aα can coassemble with Aβ and alter its biological effects at relatively low concentrations. Based on the above, we urge researchers in the field to re-examine the significance of Aα in AD.

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