Volume 139, 2008

Common motifs in proteinself-assembly


The importance of misfolding proteins forming amyloid fibrils for the aetiology of many diseases, particularly those of old age, is well recognized. This phenomenon is now thought to be a universal property of proteins, as long as appropriate conditions for loosening the native folded structure can be found, which may be outside those of normal physiology. However, the β-sheet-rich structure of the amyloid fibril does not need to exist in isolation. Recent work has shown that higher order assemblies of the fibrils occur into structures resembling spherulites found in common synthetic semi-crystalline polymers. In these, the fibrils grow outwards from an inner core, thought to be amorphous. Data will be presented on the kinetics of growth of these fibrils for different proteins, so that similarities and differences can be revealed, and related to subtle differences in appearance under the microscope.

The in vitroassembly of amyloid fibrils is usually thought to occur well away from the isoelectric point of the protein, and these are the conditions under which they have most been studied. Around the isoelectric point, particulate self-assembly is known to occur for β-lactoglobulin, and we can now show this is also a generic form of protein self-assembly once the net charge on the protein is close to zero. Nevertheless, the charge is not actually zero, and salt in the solution is found to have a significant effect on the growth of the particles. The use of SAXS, thioflavin T staining and FTIR also shows that within the particles there is also clear evidence for amyloid-like β-sheet structure, particularly in the case when salt is absent, demonstrating that this particular motif underlies this very different form of protein self-assembly.

Article information

Article type
16 Oct 2007
07 Jan 2008
First published
09 May 2008

Faraday Discuss., 2008,139, 265-274

Common motifs in protein self-assembly

M. R. H. Krebs, K. R. Domike, D. Cannon and A. M. Donald, Faraday Discuss., 2008, 139, 265 DOI: 10.1039/B715879C

To request permission to reproduce material from this article, please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

If you are an author contributing to an RSC publication, you do not need to request permission provided correct acknowledgement is given.

If you are the author of this article, you do not need to request permission to reproduce figures and diagrams provided correct acknowledgement is given. If you want to reproduce the whole article in a third-party publication (excluding your thesis/dissertation for which permission is not required) please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity