Structure-based design and study of non-amyloidogenic, double N-methylated IAPP amyloid core sequences as inhibitors of IAPP amyloid formation and cytotoxicity

J Mol Biol. 2002 Jan 18;315(3):339-50. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.2001.5244.


Pancreatic amyloid is formed by the aggregation of the 37-residue islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) in type II diabetes patients and is cytotoxic. Pancreatic amyloid deposits are found in more than 95 % of type II diabetes patients and their formation is strongly associated with disease progression. IAPP amyloid forms via a conformational transition of soluble IAPP into aggregated beta-sheets. We recently identified IAPP(22-27) (NFGAIL) as a minimum length sequence sufficient to self-associate into beta-sheet-containing amyloid fibrils. Here, we have used the NFGAIL model of the IAPP amyloid core as a structural template to design non-amyloidogenic derivatives of amyloidogenic sequences of IAPP that are able to interact with the native sequences and inhibit amyloid formation. The design of the derivatives was based on a simple, structure-based minimalistic and selective N-methylation approach. Accordingly, a minimum number of two amide bonds on the same side of the beta-strand of the amyloid core was N-methylated. This was expected to eliminate the two intermolecular backbone NH to CO hydrogen bonds which are critical for the extension of the beta-sheet dimers into multimers and amyloid. Other beta-strand "contact sides" remained intact allowing for the derivatives to interact with the native sequences. Double N-methylated derivatives of amyloidogenic and cytotoxic partial IAPP sequences generated included F(N-Me)GA(N-Me)IL, NF(N-Me)GA(N-Me)IL, SNNF(N-Me)GA(N-Me)IL, and SNNF(N-Me)GA(N-Me)ILSS and were found to be devoid of beta-sheet structure, amyloidogenicity and cytotoxicity according to Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), Congo red (CR) staining, electron microscopy (EM), and cell viability tests. The derivatives were able to interact with the native sequences and inhibit amyloid formation as shown by circular dichroism spectroscopy (CD), FT-IR and EM. Moreover, SNNF(N-Me)GA(N-Me)ILSS inhibited cytotoxicity of SNNFGAILSS and is thus the first reported inhibitor of IAPP amyloid formation and cytotoxicity. Our results demonstrate the validity of the design approach for IAPP and suggest that it may find application in understanding the structural features of amyloid formation and in the development of inhibitors of amyloid formation and cytotoxicity of other amyloidogenic polypeptides as well.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amyloid / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Amyloid / chemistry*
  • Amyloid / pharmacology
  • Amyloid / toxicity
  • Amyloidosis* / drug therapy
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Congo Red
  • Drug Design*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Methylation
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pancreatic Diseases / drug therapy
  • Protein Engineering*
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary / drug effects
  • Protein Structure, Secondary / drug effects
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Amyloid
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Congo Red