Spontaneous fibril formation by polyalanines; discontinuous molecular dynamics simulations.

Research paper by Hung D HD Nguyen, Carol K CK Hall

Indexed on: 09 Feb '06Published on: 09 Feb '06Published in: Journal of the American Chemical Society


Fibrillary protein aggregates rich in beta-sheet structure have been implicated in the pathology of several neurodegenerative diseases. In this work, we investigate the formation of fibrils by performing discontinuous molecular dynamics simulations on systems containing 12 to 96 model Ac-KA(14)K-NH(2) peptides using our newly developed off-lattice, implicit-solvent, intermediate-resolution model, PRIME. We find that, at a low concentration, random-coil peptides assemble into alpha-helices at low temperatures. At intermediate concentrations, random-coil peptides assemble into alpha-helices at low temperatures and large beta-sheet structures at high temperatures. At high concentrations, the system forms beta-sheets over a wide range of temperatures. These assemble into fibrils above a critical temperature which decreases with concentration and exceeds the isolated peptide's folding temperature. At very high temperatures and all concentrations, the system is in a random-coil state. All of these results are in good qualitative agreement with those by Blondelle and co-workers on Ac-KA(14)K-NH(2) peptides. The fibrils observed in our simulations mimic the structural characteristics observed in experiments in terms of the number of sheets formed, the values of the intra- and intersheet separations, and the parallel peptide arrangement within each beta-sheet. Finally, we find that when the strength of the hydrophobic interaction between nonpolar side chains is high compared to the strength of hydrogen bonding, amorphous aggregates, rather than fibrillar aggregates, are formed.