Amyloid fibril formation by pentapeptide and tetrapeptide fragments of human calcitonin

Meital Reches, Yair Porat, Ehud Gazit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

307 Scopus citations


The process of amyloid fibril formation by the human calcitonin hormone is associated with medullary thyroid carcinoma. Based on the effect of pH on the fibrillization of human calcitonin, the analysis of conformationally constrained analogues of the hormone, and our suggestion regarding the role of aromatic residues in the process of amyloid fibril formation, we studied the ability of a short aromatic charged peptide fragment of calcitonin (NH2-DFNKF-COOH) to form amyloid fibrils. Here, using structural and biophysical analysis, we clearly demonstrate the ability of this short peptide to form well ordered amyloid fibrils. A shorter truncated tetrapeptide, NH2-DFNK-COOH, also formed fibrils albeit less ordered than those formed by the pentapeptide. We could not detect amyloid fibril formation by the NH2-FNKF-COOH tetrapeptide, the NH2-DFN-COOH tripeptide, or the NH2-DANKA-COOH phenylalanine to the alanine analogue of the pentapeptide. The formation of amyloid fibrils by rather hydrophilic peptides is quite striking, because it was speculated that hydrophobic interactions might play a key role in amyloid formation. This is the first reported case of fibril formation by a peptide as short as a tetrapeptide and one of very few cases of amyloid formation by pentapeptides. Because the aromatic nature seems to be the only common property of the various very short amyloid-forming peptides, it further supports our hypothesis on the role of aromatic interactions in the process of amyloid fibril formation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)35475-35480
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number38
StatePublished - 20 Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes


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