Structure Analysis of an Amyloid-Forming Model Peptide by a Systematic Glycine and Proline Scan
U. I. M. Gerling, E. Brandenburg, H. v. Berlepsch, K. Pagel, and B. Koksch – 2011
The ability to adopt at least two different stable conformations is a common feature of proteins involved in many neurodegenerative diseases. The involved molecules undergo a conformational transition from native, mainly helical states to insoluble amyloid structures that have high beta-sheet content. A detailed characterization of the molecular architecture of highly ordered amyloid structures, however, is still challenging. Their intrinsically low solubility and high tendency to aggregate often considerably limits the application of established high-resolution techniques such as NMR and X-ray crystallography. An alternative approach to elucidating the tertiary and quaternary organization within an amyloid fibril is the systematic replacement of residues with amino acids that exhibit special conformational characteristics, such as glycine and proline. Substitutions within the beta-sheet-prone sequences of the molecules usually severely affect their ability to form fibrils, whereas incorporation at external loop- and bend-like positions often has only marginal effects. Here we present the characterization of the internal architecture of a de novo designed coiled-coil-based amyloid-forming model peptide by means of a series of systematic single glycine and proline replacements in combination with a set of simple low-resolution methods. The folding and assembly behavior of the substituted peptides was monitored simultaneously using circular dichroism spectroscopy, Thioflavin T fluorescence staining, and transmission electron microscopy. On the basis of the obtained data, we successfully identify characteristic bend and core positions within the peptide sequence and propose a detailed structural model of the internal fibrillar arrangement.