New structures help the modeling of toxic amyloidß ion channels

Hyunbum Jang*, Jie Zheng, Ratnesh Lal, Ruth Nussinov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


The mechanism of amyloid toxicity is poorly understood and there are two schools of thought in this hotly debated field: the first favors membrane destabilization by intermediate-to-large amyloid oligomers, with consequent thinning and non-specific ion leakage; the second favors ion-specific permeable channels lined by small amyloid oligomers. Published results currently support both mechanisms. However, the amyloidß (Aβ) peptide has recently been shown to form a U-shaped 'β-strand-turn-β-strand' structure. This structure and the available physiological data present a challenge for computational biology - to provide candidate models consistent with the experimental data. Modeling based on small Aβ oligomers containing extramembranous N-termini predicts channels with shapes and dimensions consistent with experimentally derived channel structures. These results support the hypothesis that small Aβ oligomers can form ion channels. Molecular dynamics modeling can provide blueprints of 3D structural conformations for many other amyloids whose membrane association is key to their toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Biochemical Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


FundersFunder number
National Institutes of HealthN01-CO-12400
National Cancer InstituteZIABC010440


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