Spatially resolved spectroscopic differentiation of hydrophilic and hydrophobic domains on individual insulin amyloid fibrils
in: Scientific Reports (2016)
The formation of insoluble β-sheet-rich protein structures known as amyloid fibrils is associated with numerous neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. A detailed understanding of the molecular structure of the fibril surface is of interest as the first contact with the physiological environment in vivo and plays a decisive role in biological activity and associated toxicity. Recent studies reveal that the inherent sensitivity and specificity of tip-enhanced Raman scattering (TERS) renders this technique a compelling method for fibril surface analysis at the single-particle level. Here, the reproducibility of TERS is demonstrated, indicating its relevance for detecting molecular variations. Consequently, individual fibrils are systematically investigated at nanometer spatial resolution. Spectral parameters were obtained by band-fitting, particularly focusing on the identification of the secondary structure via the amide III band and the differentiation of hydrophobic and hydrophilic domains on the surface. In addition multivariate data analysis, specifically the N-FINDR procedure, was employed to generate structure-specific maps. The ability of TERS to localize specific structural domains on fibril surfaces shows promise to the development of new fibril dissection strategies and can be generally applied to any (bio)chemical surface when structural variations at the nanometer level are of interest.