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Proteins. 2011 Jul;79(7):2132-45. doi: 10.1002/prot.23034. Epub 2011 May 9.

Computer simulation study of amyloid fibril formation by palindromic sequences in prion peptides.

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  • 1Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.


We simulate the aggregation of large systems containing palindromic peptides from the Syrian hamster prion protein SHaPrP 113-120 (AGAAAAGA) and the mouse prion protein MoPrP 111-120 (VAGAAAAGAV) and eight sequence variations: GAAAAAAG, (AG)(4) , A8, GAAAGAAA, A10, V10, GAVAAAAVAG, and VAVAAAAVAV The first two peptides are thought to act as the Velcro that holds the parent prion proteins together in amyloid structures and can form fibrils themselves. Kinetic events along the fibrillization pathway influence the types of structures that occur and variations in the sequence affect aggregation kinetics and fibrillar structure. Discontinuous molecular dynamics simulations using the PRIME20 force field are performed on systems containing 48 peptides starting from a random coil configuration. Depending on the sequence, fibrillar structures form spontaneously over a range of temperatures, below which amorphous aggregates form and above which no aggregation occurs. AGAAAAGA forms well organized fibrillar structures whereas VAGAAAAGAV forms less well organized structures that are partially fibrillar and partially amorphous. The degree of order in the fibrillar structure stems in part from the types of kinetic events leading up to its formation, with AGAAAAGA forming less amorphous structures early in the simulation than VAGAAAAGAV. The ability to form fibrils increases as the chain length and the length of the stretch of hydrophobic residues increase. However as the hydrophobicity of the sequence increases, the ability to form well-ordered structures decreases. Thus, longer hydrophobic sequences form slightly disordered aggregates that are partially fibrillar and partially amorphous. Subtle changes in sequence result in slightly different fibril structures.

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