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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Aggregation of Chameleon Peptides: Implications of alpha-Helicity in Fibril Formation

  • Author(s): Kim, B
  • Do, TD
  • Hayden, EY
  • Teplow, DB
  • Bowers, MT
  • Shea, J-E
  • et al.

We investigate the relationship between the inherent secondary structure and aggregation propensity of peptides containing chameleon sequences (i.e., sequences that can adopt either α or β structure depending on context) using a combination of replica exchange molecular dynamics simulations, ion-mobility mass spectrometry, circular dichroism, and transmission electron microscopy. We focus on an eight-residue long chameleon sequence that can adopt an α-helical structure in the context of the iron-binding protein from Bacillus anthracis (PDB id 1JIG ) and a β-strand in the context of the baculovirus P35 protein (PDB id 1P35 ). We show that the isolated chameleon sequence is intrinsically disordered, interconverting between α-helical and β-rich conformations. The inherent conformational plasticity of the sequence can be constrained by addition of flanking residues with a given secondary structure propensity. Intriguingly, we show that the chameleon sequence with helical flanking residues aggregates rapidly into fibrils, whereas the chameleon sequence with flanking residues that favor β-conformations has weak aggregation propensity. This work sheds new insights into the possible role of α-helical intermediates in fibril formation.

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