5 min read

The N-terminal Helix Controls the Transition between the Soluble and Amyloid States of an FF Domain

Latest updated: May 29, 2020

Virginia Castillo, Fabrizio Chiti, Salvador Ventura
PLOS ONE, 2013




Protein aggregation is linked to the onset of an increasing number of human nonneuropathic (either localized or systemic) and neurodegenerative disorders. In particular, misfolding of native α-helical structures and their self-assembly into nonnative intermolecular β-sheets has been proposed to trigger amyloid fibril formation in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.


Here, we use a battery of biophysical techniques to elucidate the conformational conversion of native α-helices into amyloid fibrils using an all-α FF domain as a model system.


We show that under mild denaturing conditions at low pH this FF domain self-assembles into amyloid fibrils. Theoretical and experimental dissection of the secondary structure elements in this domain indicates that the helix 1 at the N-terminus has both the highest α-helical and amyloid propensities, controlling the transition between soluble and aggregated states of the protein.


The data illustrates the overlap between the propensity to form native α-helices and amyloid structures in protein segments.


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stopped-flow refolding fluorescence

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