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FEBS Lett. 2010 Feb 19;584(4):780-4. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2010.01.002. Epub 2010 Jan 12.

The role of protonation in protein fibrillation.

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Center for Insoluble Protein Structures (inSPIN), Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre, University of Aarhus, Aarhus C, Denmark.


Many proteins fibrillate at low pH despite a high population of charged side chains. Therefore exchange of protons between the fibrillating peptide and its surroundings may play an important role in fibrillation. Here, we use isothermal titration calorimetry to measure exchange of protons between buffer and the peptide hormone glucagon during fibrillation. Glucagon absorbs or releases protons to an extent which allows it to attain a net charge of zero in the fibrillar state, both at acidic and basic pH. Similar results are obtained for lysozyme. This suggests that side chain pK(a) values change dramatically in the fibrillar state.

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