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PeerJ. 2016 Feb 4;4:e1676. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1676. eCollection 2016.

Identification of fibrillogenic regions in human triosephosphate isomerase.

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Instituto de Biotecnología, Departamento de Ingeniería Celular y Biocatálisis, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México , Cuernavaca, Morelos , Mexico.



Amyloid secondary structure relies on the intermolecular assembly of polypeptide chains through main-chain interaction. According to this, all proteins have the potential to form amyloid structure, nevertheless, in nature only few proteins aggregate into toxic or functional amyloids. Structural characteristics differ greatly among amyloid proteins reported, so it has been difficult to link the fibrillogenic propensity with structural topology. However, there are ubiquitous topologies not represented in the amyloidome that could be considered as amyloid-resistant attributable to structural features, such is the case of TIM barrel topology.


This work was aimed to study the fibrillogenic propensity of human triosephosphate isomerase (HsTPI) as a model of TIM barrels. In order to do so, aggregation of HsTPI was evaluated under native-like and destabilizing conditions. Fibrillogenic regions were identified by bioinformatics approaches, protein fragmentation and peptide aggregation.


We identified four fibrillogenic regions in the HsTPI corresponding to the β3, β6, β7 y α8 of the TIM barrel. From these, the β3-strand region (residues 59-66) was highly fibrillogenic. In aggregation assays, HsTPI under native-like conditions led to amorphous assemblies while under partially denaturing conditions (urea 3.2 M) formed more structured aggregates. This slightly structured aggregates exhibited residual cross-β structure, as demonstrated by the recognition of the WO1 antibody and ATR-FTIR analysis.


Despite the fibrillogenic regions present in HsTPI, the enzyme maintained under native-favoring conditions displayed low fibrillogenic propensity. This amyloid-resistance can be attributed to the three-dimensional arrangement of the protein, where β-strands, susceptible to aggregation, are protected in the core of the molecule. Destabilization of the protein structure may expose inner regions promoting β-aggregation, as well as the formation of hydrophobic disordered aggregates. Being this last pathway kinetically favored over the thermodynamically more stable fibril aggregation pathway.


Aggregation; Amyloid; Cross-β; Fibrillogenesis; Triosephosphate isomerase

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