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Biophys J. 2012 Mar 21;102(6):1443-52. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.02.017. Epub 2012 Mar 20.

Sequence-dependent stability test of a left-handed β-helix motif.

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  • 1Department of Physics, University of California, Davis, California, USA.


The left-handed β-helix (LHBH) is an intriguing, rare structural pattern in polypeptides that has been implicated in the formation of amyloid aggregates. We used accurate all-atom replica-exchange molecular dynamics (REMD) simulations to study the relative stability of diverse sequences in the LHBH conformation. Ensemble-average coordinates from REMD served as a scoring criterion to identify sequences and threadings optimally suited to the LHBH, as in a fold recognition paradigm. We examined the repeatability of our REMD simulations, finding that single simulations can be reliable to a quantifiable extent. We find expected behavior for the positive and negative control cases of a native LHBH and intrinsically disordered sequences, respectively. Polyglutamine and a designed hexapeptide repeat show remarkable affinity for the LHBH motif. A structural model for misfolded murine prion protein was also considered, and showed intermediate stability under the given conditions. Our technique is found to be an effective probe of LHBH stability, and promises to be scalable to broader studies of this and potentially other novel or rare motifs. The superstable character of the designed hexapeptide repeat suggests theoretical and experimental follow-ups.

Copyright © 2012 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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