The formation of Escherichia coli curli amyloid fibrils is mediated by prion-like peptide repeats

Izhack Cherny, Liat Rockah, Orlev Levy-Nissenbaum, Uri Gophna, Eliora Z. Ron, Ehud Gazit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amyloid fibril formation is the hallmark of major human maladies including Alzheimer's disease, type II diabetes, and prion diseases. Prion-like phenomena were also observed in yeast. Although not evolutionarily related, one similarity between the animal PrP and the yeast Sup35 prion proteins is the occurrence of short peptide repeats that are assumed to play a key role in the assembly of the amyloid structures. It was recently demonstrated that typical amyloid fibril formation is associated with biofilm formation by Escherichia coli. Here, we note the functional and structural similarity between oligopeptide repeats of the major curli protein and those of animal and yeast prions. We demonstrate that synthetic peptides corresponding to the repeats form fibrillar structures. Furthermore, conjugation of β-breaker elements to the prion-like repeat significantly inhibits amyloid formation and cell invasion of curli-expressing bacteria. This implies a functional role of the repeat in the self-assembly of the fibrils. Since mammal prion, yeast prion, and curli protein are evolutionarily distinct, the conserved peptide repeats most likely define an optimized self-association motif that was independently evolved by diverse systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-252
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 16 Sep 2005


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation


    • Amyloid formation
    • Bacterial biofilm
    • Peptide repeats
    • Prion disease


    Dive into the research topics of 'The formation of Escherichia coli curli amyloid fibrils is mediated by prion-like peptide repeats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this