Amyloids as Sensors and Protectors (ASAP) hypothesis. Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper propounds the Amyloids as Sensors and Protectors (ASAP) hypothesis. In this novel hypothesis, we provide evidence that amyloids are capable of sensing dysfunction, and after misfolding, initiate protective cellular responses. Amyloid proteins are initially protective, but chronic stress and overstimulation of the amyloid sensor leads to pathology. This proposed ASAP hypothesis has two sequential stages: (i) sensing, and then (ii) protection. Sensing involves a conformational change of amyloids in response to the cellular environment. The protection aspect translates conformational change into a cellular response via several mechanisms. The most obvious mechanism is that protein misfolding triggers the protective unfolded protein response, and thus downregulates protein translation and increases chaperone proteins. Other documented responses include metabolic pathways and microRNAs. This ASAP hypothesis has precedence, as amyloid sensors exist (evidenced by CPEB and Sup35), and both prion and amyloid- sensing redox stress and metals. Our hypothesis expands on previous observations to link sensing with inciting protective cellular response. Furthermore, we substantiate the ASAP hypothesis with previously published evidence from several amyloid diseases. This novel hypothesis links disparate findings in amyloid diseases: metabolic dysfunction, unfolding protein response/chaperones, modification of amyloids, and nutrient or caloric sensing. While this hypothesis can be applied to Alzheimer's disease, it goes beyond the Alzheimer's context. Thus all amyloid proteins can potentially act as sensors of misfolding-causing stress. Finally, this hypothesis will allow for the sensor mechanism and metabolic dysfunction to serve as biomarkers of the diseases as well as therapeutic targets early in disease pathology.

published proceedings

  • J Alzheimers Dis

author list (cited authors)

  • Petrofes Chapa, R. D., Emery, M. A., Fawver, J. N., & Murray, I.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Petrofes Chapa, Rachel D||Emery, Michael A||Fawver, Janelle N||Murray, Ian VJ

publication date

  • March 2012