Effect of de novo peptide properties on self-assembling large amyloid fibers
Amyloid aggregation involves the spontaneous formation of fibers from misfolded proteins. This process requires low energy input, results in robust fibers, and is thus of interest from a materials manufacturing perspective. The effect of glutamine content and hydrophobicity of template peptides on amyloid aggregation of a template-peptide system involving myoglobin was studied at near-physiological conditions by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, field emission scanning electron microscopy, and nanoindentation. Hydrophobic interactions were found to be important for controlled hierarchical fiber growth via a cooperative mechanism, with the largest effect in myoglobin mixtures. Hydrophobic packing increased for most systems as aggregation progressed. The largest changes in structure occurred upon drying. When myoglobin was present with the highest glutamine-containing template (P7), the high glutamine peptide was not effective as a template, since it appeared to prefer self-catalysis. A low level of glutamine in some unordered templates was insufficient for amyloid development. However, templating was more important in glutamine-free templates mixed with myoglobin, which formed fibers with a surprisingly high elastic modulus. This may have been due to template patterning. Nanoindentation results confirmed that glutamine blocks were not necessary for strong intermolecular interactions and cooperative fibril formation.