Random coil conformation for extended polyglutamine stretches in aqueous soluble monomeric peptides


Address: Eric Lewin Altschuler UCSD School of Medicine La Jolla, California 92093-0606 USA Email: elaltsch@sdcc3.ucsd.edu


Several neurodegenerative diseases have been found to be strongly associated with proteins containing a polyglutamine stretch which is greatly expanded from approximately 20 glutamines in normal individuals to more than 40 in affected individuals. A conformational change in the expanded polyglutamine stretch has been suggested to form the molecular basis for disease onset. Model peptides containing polyglutamine tend to aggregate and become insoluble. We have synthesized readily water-soluble monomeric peptides by flanking polyglutamine stretches with sequences rich in alanine and lysine. Circular dichroism measurements show that polyglutamine stretches of length 9 or 17 adopt a random coil configuration in aqueous solution. We think that in the disease-associated peptides for normal individuals the stretches of ∼20 glutamines are in a random coil conformation, whereas in affected individuals the polyglutamine stretch may be in some other conformation. Our method to design soluble monomeric peptides containing extended polyglutamine stretches may be generally useful in studying other highly aggregating peptides.