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J Biol Chem. 2011 Aug 19;286(33):28988-95. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.261750. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

Amyloid-like fibrils from a domain-swapping protein feature a parallel, in-register conformation without native-like interactions.

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Department of Structural Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


The formation of amyloid-like fibrils is characteristic of various diseases, but the underlying mechanism and the factors that determine whether, when, and how proteins form amyloid, remain uncertain. Certain mechanisms have been proposed based on the three-dimensional or runaway domain swapping, inspired by the fact that some proteins show an apparent correlation between the ability to form domain-swapped dimers and a tendency to form fibrillar aggregates. Intramolecular β-sheet contacts present in the monomeric state could constitute intermolecular β-sheets in the dimeric and fibrillar states. One example is an amyloid-forming mutant of the immunoglobulin binding domain B1 of streptococcal protein G, which in its native conformation consists of a four-stranded β-sheet and one α-helix. Under native conditions this mutant adopts a domain-swapped dimer, and it also forms amyloid-like fibrils, seemingly in correlation to its domain-swapping ability. We employ magic angle spinning solid-state NMR and other methods to examine key structural features of these fibrils. Our results reveal a highly rigid fibril structure that lacks mobile domains and indicate a parallel in-register β-sheet structure and a general loss of native conformation within the mature fibrils. This observation contrasts with predictions that native structure, and in particular intermolecular β-strand interactions seen in the dimeric state, may be preserved in "domain-swapping" fibrils. We discuss these observations in light of recent work on related amyloid-forming proteins that have been argued to follow similar mechanisms and how this may have implications for the role of domain-swapping propensities for amyloid formation.

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