Folding and self-assembly of polypeptides: Dynamics and thermodynamics from molecular simulation /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Fluitt, Aaron Michael, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (157 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Juan J. de Pablo Committee members: Stephen C. Meredith; Paul F. Nealey.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: B.
Summary:Empowered by their exquisite three-dimensional structures, or "folds," proteins carry out biological tasks with high specificity, efficiency, and fidelity. The fold that optimizes biological function represents a stable configuration of the constituent polypeptide molecule(s) under physiological conditions. Proteins and polypeptides are not static, however: battered by thermal motion, they explore a distribution of folds that is determined by the sequence of amino acids, the presence and identity of other molecules, and the thermodynamic conditions. In this dissertation, we apply molecular simulation techniques to the study of two polypeptides that have unusually diffuse distributions of folds under physiological conditions: polyglutamine (polyQ) and islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP). Neither polyQ nor IAPP adopts a predominant fold in dilute aqueous solution, but at sufficient concentrations, both are prone to self-assemble into stable, periodic, and highly regular aggregate structures known as amyloid. The appearance of amyloid deposits of polyQ in the brain, and of IAPP in the pancreas, are associated with Huntington's disease and type 2 diabetes, respectively. A molecular view of the mechanism(s) by which polyQ and IAPP fold and self-assemble will enhance our understanding of disease pathogenesis, and it has the potential to accelerate the development of therapeutics that target early-stage aggregates. Using molecular simulations with spatial and temporal resolution on the atomic scale, we present analyses of the structural distributions of polyQ and IAPP under various conditions, both in and out of equilibrium. In particular, we examine amyloid fibers of polyQ, the IAPP dimer in solution, and single IAPP fragments at a lipid bilayer. We also benchmark the molecular models, or "force fields," available for such studies, and we introduce a novel simulation algorithm.