ChBE Seminar Series: Robert Tycko

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Room 2110, Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Bldg.
Professor Jeffery Klauda
(301) 405-1320

Structures of Amyloid Fibrils and Protein Folding Intermediates: New Insights from Solid State NMR

Presented by Robert Tycko
Laboratory of Chemical Physics
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Modern solid state NMR techniques allow structural investigations of proteins, peptides, and other biomolecules in environments and materials that are not amenable to more familiar techniques. I will present recent results from two projects that illustrate the power of solid state NMR in biomolecular studies: (1) We are using a combination of solid state NMR and electron microscopy to develop full molecular models for amyloid fibrils formed by the beta-amyloid peptide of Alzheimer's disease and by other peptides and proteins. Amyloid fibrils are often polymorphic, so that the detailed molecular structure depends on growth conditions or other factors. I will describe two structural models for beta-amyloid fibrils with two distinct morphologies. I will also describe efforts to determine which fibril structure develops in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients, and solid state NMR methods that contribute to our amyloid studies; (2) Structural properties of unfolded or partially folded states of proteins are not well understood. In principle, solid state NMR measurements on freeze-trapped samples can reveal site-specific, quantitative aspects of protein structures in unfolded states. I will describe experiments on thermodynamically unfolded states (i.e., denatured states) and on transient states that are trapped by freezing on the microsecond time scale. Both types of experiments reveal structural properties that are unanticipated and could not be detected by more conventional protein folding measurements.

Audience: Graduate  Faculty  Post-Docs 


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