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Keywords:

  • amyloid formation;
  • molecular recognition;
  • protein folding;
  • protein misfolding;
  • protein–protein interactions;
  • self-assembly;
  • stacking interactions

The formation of amyloid fibrils is associated with various human medical disorders of unrelated origin. Recent research indicates that self-assembled amyloid fibrils are also involved in physiological processes in several micro-organisms. Yet, the molecular basis for the recognition and self-assembly processes mediating the formation of such structures from their soluble protein precursors is not fully understood. Short peptide models have provided novel insight into the mechanistic issues of amyloid formation, revealing that very short peptides (as short as a tetrapeptide) contain all the necessary molecular information for forming typical amyloid fibrils. A careful analysis of short peptides has not only facilitated the identification of molecular recognition modules that promote the interaction and self-assembly of fibrils but also revealed that aromatic interactions are important in many cases of amyloid formation. The realization of the role of aromatic moieties in fibril formation is currently being used to develop novel inhibitors that can serve as therapeutic agents to treat amyloid-associated disorders.