Biochim Biophys Acta Proteins Proteom 2019 Jan 3. Epub 2019 Jan 3.
Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW, UK; UK Dementia Research Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 0XY, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Protein aggregates play a key role in the initiation and spreading of neurodegenerative disease but have been difficult to study due to their low abundance and heterogeneity, in both size and structure. Fluorescence based methods capable of detecting and characterising single aggregates have recently been developed and can be used to measure many important aggregate properties, and can be combined with sensitive assays to measure aggregate toxicity. Here we review these methods and discuss recent examples of their application to determine the molecular mechanism of aggregation and the detection of aggregates in cells and cerebrospinal fluid. The further development of these methods and their application to the aggregates present in humans has the potential to solve a major problem in the field and allow the identification of the key toxic species that should be targeted in therapies.