Complex System Assembly Underlies a Two-Tiered Model of Highly Delocalized Electrons

J Phys Chem Lett. 2016 May 19;7(10):1859-64. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.6b00699. Epub 2016 May 6.


Amyloid fibrils are exceptionally stable oligomeric structures with extensive, highly cooperative H-bonding networks whose physical origin remains elusive. While nonpolar systems benefit from both H-bonds and hydrophobic interactions, we found that highly polar sequences containing glutamine and asparagine amino acid residues form hyperpolarized H-bonds. This feature, observed by density functional theory calculations, encodes the origin of these polar oligomers' high stability. These results are explained in a theoretical model for complex amyloid assembly based on two different types of cooperative effects resulting from highly delocalized electrons, one of which is always present in both polar and hydrophobic systems. Experimental electric conductivity measurements, ThT fluorescence enhancement, and NMR spectroscopy support this proposal and reveal the conditions for disassembly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't