To study the influence of whole secondary structure elements to the process of folding and amyloid-fibril formation, chimeras of stefins have been prepared. GdnHCl denaturation curves and folding rates (chevron plots) have been analyzed based on a two-state mechanism. The order of stability is: stefin A > aAbbbb > bAbbbb > stefin B = aBaaaa > bBaaaa, where the make up of chimeric proteins is designated by small letters representing the source of individual strands (a for stefin A, b for stefin B) and a capital letter representing the source of the helix (A for stefin A and B for stefin B). Only the fast folding reactions were included in the analysis and it has been found that stefin B folds the fastest (657 s−1). Similarly, fast folders are the chimeric proteins aBaaaa and bBaaaa, both of which contain the α-helix of stefin B. Unfolding rates correlate very well with protein stability, with the slowest rate for the most stable protein, stefin A. Amyloid-fibril growth was measured for each protein by monitoring thioflavin T fluorescence and was visualized using electron microscopy. The propensity to form amyloid-fibrils is in the order: stefin B > bAbbbb > aAbbbb > bBaaaa > aBaaaa > stefin A. This order does not correlate with stability, or with the folding or unfolding rates. Instead, the propensity to fibrillize is related to selected parts of structure, such as the β-sheet of stefin B, and can be predicted reasonably well by calculating the β-strand propensity of the denatured states. Proteins 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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