Left-handed polyproline-II helix revisited: proteins causing proteopathies

J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2017 Sep;35(12):2701-2713. doi: 10.1080/07391102.2016.1229220. Epub 2016 Sep 28.


Left-handed polyproline-II type helix is a regular conformation of polypeptide chain not only of fibrous, but also of folded and natively unfolded proteins and peptides. It is the only class of regular secondary structure substantially represented in non-fibrous proteins and peptides on a par with right-handed alpha-helix and beta-structure. In this study, we have shown that polyproline-II helix is abundant in several peptides and proteins involved in proteopathies, the amyloid-beta peptides, protein tau and prion protein. Polyproline-II helices form two interaction sites in the amyloid-beta peptides, which are pivotal for pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). It also with high probability is the structure of the majority of tau phosphorylation sites, important for tau hyperphosphorylation and formation of neurofibrillary tangles, a hallmark of AD. Polyproline-II helices form large parts of the structure of the folded domain of prion protein. They can undergo conversion to beta-structure as a result of relatively small change of one torsional angle of polypeptide chain. We hypothesize that in prions and amyloids, in general polyproline-II helices can serve as structural elements of the normal structure as well as dormant nuclei of structure conversion, and thus play important role in structure changes leading to the formation of fibrils.

Keywords: PPII; beta-amyloid; polyproline-II helix; prion protein; protein tau; proteopathies.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Phosphorylation
  • PrPSc Proteins / chemistry*
  • Prion Diseases / metabolism
  • Prion Diseases / pathology
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Sequence Homology
  • tau Proteins / chemistry*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Peptides
  • PrPSc Proteins
  • tau Proteins
  • polyproline