The self-assembly of human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) into β-sheet-rich nanofibrils is associated with the pathogeny of type 2 diabetes. Soluble hIAPP is intrinsically disordered with N-terminal residues 8–17 as α-helices. To understand the contribution of the N-terminal helix to the aggregation of full-length hIAPP, here the oligomerization dynamics of the hIAPP fragment 8–20 (hIAPP8-20) are investigated with combined computational and experimental approaches. hIAPP8-20 forms cross-β nanofibrils in silico from isolated helical monomers via the helical oligomers and α-helices to β-sheets transition, as confirmed by transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, circular dichroism spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography. The computational results also suggest that the critical nucleus of aggregation corresponds to hexamers, consistent with a recent mass-spectroscopy study of hIAPP8-20 aggregation. hIAPP8-20 oligomers smaller than hexamers are helical and unstable, while the α-to-β transition starts from the hexamers. Converted β-sheet-rich oligomers first form β-barrel structures as intermediates before aggregating into cross-β nanofibrils. This study uncovers a complete picture of hIAPP8-20 peptide oligomerization, aggregation nucleation via conformational conversion, formation of β-barrel intermediates, and assembly of cross-β protofibrils, thereby shedding light on the aggregation of full-length hIAPP, a hallmark of pancreatic beta-cell degeneration.
- beta barrels
- helical oligomers
- helix-to-sheet transitions
- human islet amyloid polypeptide