Simple fluorinated moiety insertion on Aβ 16-23 peptide for stain-free TEM imaging.
Peptide aggregation and fibre formation are one of the major underlying causes of several neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. During the past decades the characterisation of these fibres has been widely studied in an attempt to further understand the nature of the related diseases and in an effort to develop treatments. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is one of the most commonly used techniques to identify these fibres, but requires the use of a radioactive staining agent. The procedure we report overcomes this drawback through simple addition of a fluorinated moiety to a short Amyloid β sequence via solid phase peptide synthesis (SPPS). This method is synthetically straightforward, widely applicable to different aggregation-prone sequences and, above all, allows for stain-free TEM imaging with improved quality compared to standard imaging procedures. The presence of the fluorinated moiety does not cause major changes in the fibre structure or aggregation, but rather serves to dissipate the microscope's electron beam, thus allowing for high contrast and straightforward imaging by TEM.