Self-assembly and sequence length dependence on nanofibrils of polyglutamine peptides

July 28, 2017


Self-assembly and sequence length dependence on nanofibrils of polyglutamine peptides


Mohammed Inayathullah, aron Tan, Rebecca Jeyaraj, James Lam, Nam-Joon Cho, Corey W. Liu, Martin A.C. Manoukian, Keyoumars Ashkan, Morteza Mahmoudi, Jayakumar Rajadas






Huntington's disease (HD) is recognized as a currently incurable, inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by the accumulation of misfolded polyglutamine (polyQ) peptide aggregates in neuronal cells. Yet, the mechanism by which newly formed polyQ chains interact and assemble into toxic oligomeric structures remains a critical, unresolved issue. In order to shed further light on the matter, our group elected to investigate the folding of polyQ peptides – examining glutamine repeat lengths ranging from 3 to 44 residues. To characterize these aggregates we employed a diverse array of technologies, including: nuclear magnetic resonance; circular dichroism; Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy; fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), and atomic force microscopy. The data we obtained suggest that an increase in the number of glutamine repeats above 14 residues results in disordered loop structures, with different repeat lengths demonstrating unique folding characteristics. This differential folding manifests in the formation of distinct nano-sized fibrils, and on this basis, we postulate the idea of 14 polyQ repeats representing a critical loop length for neurotoxicity – a property that we hope may prove amenable to future therapeutic intervention. Furthermore, FRET measurements on aged assemblages indicate an increase in the end-to-end distance of the peptide with time, most probably due to the intermixing of individual peptide strands within the nanofibril. Further insight into this apparent time-dependent reorganization of aggregated polyQ peptides may influence future disease modeling of polyQ-related proteinopathies, in addition to directing novel clinical innovations.




Circular dichroism, Protein folding, Secondary structure, Aggregation, Biochemistry