Given their high alanine and glycine levels, plaque formation, α-helix to β-sheet interconversion and fusogenicity, FP (i.e., the N-terminal fusion peptide of HIV-1 gp41; 23 residues) and amyloids were proposed as belonging to the same protein superfamily. Here, we further test whether FP may exhibit 'amyloid-like' characteristics, by contrasting its structural and functional properties with those of Aβ(26-42), a 17-residue peptide from the C-terminus of the amyloid-beta protein responsible for Alzheimer's. FTIR spectroscopy, electron microscopy, light scattering and predicted amyloid structure aggregation (PASTA) indicated that aqueous FP and Aβ(26-42) formed similar networked β-sheet fibrils, although the FP fibril interactions were weaker. FP and Aβ(26-42) both lysed and aggregated human erythrocytes, with the hemolysis-onsets correlated with the conversion of α-helix to β-sheet for each peptide in liposomes. Congo red (CR), a marker of amyloid plaques in situ, similarly inhibited either FP- or Aβ(26-42)-induced hemolysis, and surface plasmon resonance indicated that this may be due to direct CR-peptide binding. These findings suggest that membrane-bound β-sheets of FP may contribute to the cytopathicity of HIV in vivo through an amyloid-type mechanism, and support the classification of HIV-1 FP as an 'amyloid homolog' (or 'amylog'). © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Gordon, L. M., Nisthal, A., Lee, A. B., Eskandari, S., Ruchala, P., Jung, C. L., … Mobley, P. W. (2008). Structural and functional properties of peptides based on the N-terminus of HIV-1 gp41 and the C-terminus of the amyloid-beta protein. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes, 1778(10), 2127–2137. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamem.2008.05.002