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J Mol Biol. 2003 Jan 10;325(2):249-57.

Amyloid-forming peptides from beta2-microglobulin-Insights into the mechanism of fibril formation in vitro.

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School of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Leeds, UK.


Beta(2)-Microglobulin (beta(2)m) is one of over 20 proteins known to be involved in human amyloid disease. Peptides equivalent to each of the seven beta-strands of the native protein, together with an eighth peptide (corresponding to the most stable region in the amyloid precursor conformation formed at pH 3.6, that includes residues in the native strand E plus the eight succeeding residues (named peptide E')), were synthesised and their ability to form fibrils investigated. Surprisingly, only two sequences, both of which encompass the region that forms strand E in native beta(2)m, are capable of forming amyloid-like fibrils in vitro. These peptides correspond to residues 59-71 (peptide E) and 59-79 (peptide E') of intact beta(2)m. The peptides form fibrils under the acidic conditions shown previously to promote amyloid formation from the intact protein (pH <5 at low and high ionic strength), and also associate to form fibrils at neutral pH. Fibrils formed from these two peptides enhance fibrillogenesis of the intact protein. No correlation was found between secondary structure propensity, peptide length, pI or hydrophobicity and the ability of the peptides to associate into amyloid-like fibrils. However, the presence of a relatively high content of aromatic side-chains correlates with the ability of the peptides to form amyloid fibrils. On the basis of these results we propose that residues 59-71 may be important in the self-association of partially folded beta(2)m into amyloid fibrils and discuss the relevance of these results for the assembly mechanism of the intact protein in vitro.

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