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Rapid glycation with D-ribose induces globular amyloid-like aggregations of BSA with high cytotoxicity to SH-SY5Y cells

Yan Wei12, Lan Chen1, Ji Chen2, Lin Ge2 and Rong Qiao He12*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 15 Da Tun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100101, PR China

2 Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19A Yu Quan Road, Shijingshan District, Beijing, 100039, PR China

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BMC Cell Biology 2009, 10:10  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-10-10

Published: 13 February 2009



D-ribose in cells and human serum participates in glycation of proteins resulting in advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that affect cell metabolism and induce cell death. However, the mechanism by which D-ribose-glycated proteins induce cell death is still unclear.


Here, we incubated D-ribose with bovine serum albumin (BSA) and observed changes in the intensity of fluorescence at 410 nm and 425 nm to monitor the formation of D-ribose-glycated BSA. Comparing glycation of BSA with xylose (a control for furanose), glucose and fructose (controls for pyranose), the rate of glycation with D-ribose was the most rapid. Protein intrinsic fluorescence (335 nm), Nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) assays and Western blotting with anti-AGEs showed that glycation of BSA incubated with D-ribose occurred faster than for the other reducing sugars. Protein intrinsic fluorescence showed marked conformational changes when BSA was incubated with D-ribose. Importantly, observations with atomic force microscopy showed that D-ribose-glycated BSA appeared in globular polymers. Furthermore, a fluorescent assay with Thioflavin T (ThT) showed a remarkable increase in fluorescence at 485 nm in the presence of D-ribose-glycated BSA. However, ThT fluorescence did not show the same marked increase in the presence of xylose or glucose. This suggests that glycation with D-ribose induced BSA to aggregate into globular amyloid-like deposits. As observed by Hoechst 33258 staining, 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) and cell counting kit-8 (CCK-8) assay, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity assay, flow cytometry using Annexin V and Propidium Iodide staining and reactive oxygen species (ROS) measurements, the amyloid-like aggregation of glycated BSA induced apoptosis in the neurotypic cell line SH-SY5Y.


Glycation with D-ribose induces BSA to misfold rapidly and form globular amyloid-like aggregations which play an important role in cytotoxicity to neural cells.