Gelsolin pathogenic Gly167Arg mutation promotes domain-swap dimerization of the protein

Francesco Bonì, Mario Milani, Alberto Barbiroli, Luisa Diomede, Eloise Mastrangelo, Matteo de Rosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AGel amyloidosis is a genetic degenerative disease characterized by the deposition of insoluble gelsolin protein aggregates in different tissues. Until recently, this disease was associated with two mutations of a single residue (Asp187 to Asn/Tyr) in the second domain of the protein. The general opinion is that pathogenic variants are not per se amyloidogenic but rather that the mutations trigger an aberrant proteolytic cascade, which results in the production of aggregation prone fragments. Here, we report the crystal structure of the second domain of gelsolin carrying the recently identified Gly167Arg mutation. This mutant dimerizes through a three-dimensional domain swapping mechanism, forming a tight but flexible assembly, which retains the structural topology of the monomer. To date, such dramatic conformational changes of this type have not been observed. Structural and biophysical characterizations reveal that the Gly167Arg mutation alone is responsible for the monomer to dimer transition and that, even in the context of the full-length protein, the pathogenic variant is prone to form dimers. These data suggest that, in addition to the well-known proteolytic-dependent mechanism, an alternative oligomerization pathway may participate in gelsolin misfolding and aggregation. We propose to integrate this alternative pathway into the current model of the disease that may also be relevant for other types of AGel amyloidosis, and other related diseases with similar underlying pathological mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-65
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Amyloid/genetics
  • Amyloidosis/genetics
  • Crystallography, X-Ray/methods
  • Dimerization
  • Gelsolin/chemistry
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Peptide Fragments/genetics
  • Protein Domains


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