Enrichment of Detergent-insoluble Protein Aggregates from Human Postmortem Brain

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In this study, we describe an abbreviated single-step fractionation protocol for the enrichment of detergent-insoluble protein aggregates from human postmortem brain. The ionic detergent N-lauryl-sarcosine (sarkosyl) effectively solubilizes natively folded proteins in brain tissue allowing the enrichment of detergent-insoluble protein aggregates from a wide range of neurodegenerative proteinopathies, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and prion diseases. Human control and AD postmortem brain tissues were homogenized and sedimented by ultracentrifugation in the presence of sarkosyl to enrich detergent-insoluble protein aggregates including pathologic phosphorylated tau, the core component of neurofibrillary tangles in AD. Western blotting demonstrated the differential solubility of aggregated phosphorylated-tau and the detergent-soluble protein, Early Endosome Antigen 1 (EEA1) in control and AD brain. Proteomic analysis also revealed enrichment of β-amyloid (Aβ), tau, snRNP70 (U1-70K), and apolipoprotein E (APOE) in the sarkosyl-insoluble fractions of AD brain compared to those of control, consistent with previous tissue fractionation strategies. Thus, this simple enrichment protocol is ideal for a wide range of experimental applications ranging from Western blotting and functional protein co-aggregation assays to mass spectrometry-based proteomics.