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Nature. 2003 Aug 14;424(6950):805-8.

Rationalization of the effects of mutations on peptide and protein aggregation rates.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW, UK.


In order for any biological system to function effectively, it is essential to avoid the inherent tendency of proteins to aggregate and form potentially harmful deposits. In each of the various pathological conditions associated with protein deposition, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, a specific peptide or protein that is normally soluble is deposited as insoluble aggregates generally referred to as amyloid. It is clear that the aggregation process is generally initiated from partially or completely unfolded forms of the peptides and proteins associated with each disease. Here we show that the intrinsic effects of specific mutations on the rates of aggregation of unfolded polypeptide chains can be correlated to a remarkable extent with changes in simple physicochemical properties such as hydrophobicity, secondary structure propensity and charge. This approach allows the pathogenic effects of mutations associated with known familial forms of protein deposition diseases to be rationalized, and more generally enables prediction of the effects of mutations on the aggregation propensity of any polypeptide chain.

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