Zinc Metal Ion Affected the Structural Stability of Amyloid-Like Nanofibrils


  • Zahraa S. Al-Garawi Physical Biochemistry, Chemistry Departm




Functional fibrils, amyloids, structural stability, circular dichroism.


Synthetic peptides that self-assemble into well-defined structures with a cross-β arrangement are called amyloid-like fibrils. Amyloids are associated with a list of disorders and neuro-degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson`s disease. We previously showed that amyloid-like nanofibrils with a repeating motif “IHIH” were functional fibrils. They were able to bind a metal ion through imidazole moieties and mimic the native carbonic anhydrase enzyme by hydrolysing the CO2 molecule. Thus, these synthetic amyloid fibrils were suggest-ed to be good candidates to moderate and update the modern enzymatic molecules. This study aims to shed a light on the stability of these amyloid nanofibrils over a study period of 25 days, in the presence/absence of a metal ion. The work continued for approximately 7 months in the Biochemistry department, School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. A set of designed peptides with a repeating motif “IHIH” were ex-plored, based on some structural studies. Short and long peptides with free ends as well as closed ends were investigated. Peptides allowed to self-assemble with and without a metal ion (zinc) were then examined using circular dichroism, fluorimetry and electron microscopy for structural biophysical analysis. Regardless of the metal ion contribution, peptides showed stable secondary structures with a -sheet conformation for the incubation time of 25 days. Their morphologies did not appear to change over time. However, the presence of a zinc ion has an effect on the secondary structure of the mature fibrils. Results indicated that fibrils grown with the zinc ion have a significantly higher propensity to form -sheets secondary structures during incubation time. The presence of a zinc ion also affected the dimensions of the amyloid-like fibrils by the end of the study course, at which point they significantly re-duced. This effect of zinc ion on synthetic amyloid fibrils has not been previously reported. The stabilities of the zinc-nanofibrils point to their potential for use in modifying or updating the enzyme-mimic analytical reactions. The effect of adding zinc on the fibrillation seems to be crucial. Although it apparently improved the -sheet assembly, it affected the width/length of the synthetic amyloids. This effect could be promising toward reducing the generation of amyloid fibrils and ultimately understanding the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease.


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How to Cite

Z. S. Al-Garawi, “Zinc Metal Ion Affected the Structural Stability of Amyloid-Like Nanofibrils”, Al-Mustansiriyah Journal of Science, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 50–62, Mar. 2019.