Investigating the aggregation of β-amyloid peptide (Aβ₄₂) and its interactions with lipid bilayers using advanced microscopy techniques
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The cell membrane is a highly complex structure consisting of a large diversity of phospholipids and macromolecules. There exist a variety of diseases that compromise the integrity of this key component of the cell. This thesis considers the investigation of interactions between β-amyloid peptide (Aβ₄₂) and lipid bilayers. To facilitate understanding of this complex system, it is advantageous to employ a model sample; supported lipid bilayers (SLB) and giant multilamellar vesicles (MLVs) are used as proxy cell membranes. These nanostructures are widely used as models of cellular membranes in many areas of scientific research. Phospholipid molecules self-organise into bilayer structures containing phase-separated microdomains, which are believed to be important in many biological processes. This study aims to develop model systems and experimental tools to explore hypothetical mechanisms through which the β-amyloid interacts with the lipid membranes. A lack of mechanistic understanding is the major challenge to our efforts to elucidate not only the interactions of the Aβ42 with the lipid membranes, but also the behaviour of these systems towards the changes of the environmental conditions (pH, concentration, temperature). Our results suggest that there are various different methods, such as AFM, CARS microscopy and Raman spectroscopy as well as neutron scattering that are capable of fast imaging. Overall, all these techniques contributed in a complementary study of Aβ₄₂ aggregation states under extreme and physiological conditions as well as to image Aβ₄₂ interactions with lipid bilayers consisted of specific lipids.