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FEBS J. 2008 Jan;275(2):219-32. Epub 2007 Dec 14.

An investigation into the effect of potassium ions on the folding of silk fibroin studied by generalized two-dimensional NMR-NMR correlation and Raman spectroscopy.

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  • 1The Key Laboratory of Molecular Engineering of Polymers, Ministry of Education, Department of Macromolecular Science, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

Abstract

We used generalized two-dimensional NMR-NMR correlation to examine the effect of potassium ions on the conformation transition in silk fibroin to investigate the possibility that the fairly high K+ ion content found in the distal end of silk-secreting ducts in the silkworms could have a bearing on natural formation of the silk fiber. This has enabled us to propose a detailed mechanism for the transition process. Our evidence indicates that increasing the [K+] from 0 to 3.7 mg.g(-1) in the silk fibroin, as is thought to occur as the silk fibroin moves through the secretory pathway to the spigot, produces a sequence of secondary structural changes: helix and/or random coil-->helix-like-->beta-sheet-like-->beta-sheet. The sequence is the same as that produced in silk fibroin films by decreasing the pH of fibroin from 6.8 to 4.8. In addition, we used Raman spectroscopy to study the effect of K+ ions on the Fermi doublet resonance of the tyrosyl phenolic ring at 850 and 830 cm(-1). The intensity ratio I(850)/I(830) at these wave numbers indicated that the hydrogen bonding formed by the tyrosyl phenolic-OH becomes more stable with an increase in the K+ ion concentration as above. Our investigation on the effect of K+ ions on fibroin may help provide a theoretical basis for understanding the natural silk-spinning process and the conditions required for biomimetic spinning. It may also have relevance to the aggregation of other beta-sheet proteins, including prion proteins, neurofibrillary proteins and amyloid plaques.

PMID:
18081855
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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