Phenol red interacts with the protofibril-like oligomers of an amyloidogenic hexapeptide NFGAIL through both hydrophobic and aromatic contacts

Chun Wu, Hongxing Lei, Zhixiang Wang, Wei Zhang, Yong Duan

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Amyloid-associated diseases affect millions of people worldwide. Phenol red exhibits modest inhibition toward fibril formation of human Islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) and its toxicity, which is associated with type II diabetes mellitus. However, the molecular level mechanisms of interactions remain elusive. The binding of phenol red molecules to the protofibrils of an amyloidogenic fragment (NFGAIL) of hIAPP has been investigated by molecular dynamics simulations with explicit solvent. The phenol red molecules were observed to bind primarily along either β-sheet stacking or β-strand directions. Through its three aromatic rings, the phenol red molecule preferentially interacted with the hydrophobic side chains of Phe, Leu, and Ile; and the polar sulfone and hydroxyl groups were mainly exposed in solvent. Thus, phenol red improves the solubility of the early protofibrils and represses further growth. Interestingly, there was no obvious preference toward the aromatic Phe residue in comparison to the hydrophobic Leu or Ile residues. The lack of binding along the hydrogen bond direction indicates that phenol red does not directly block the β-sheet extension. Further free energy analysis suggested that a phenol red analog may potentially improve the binding affinity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3664-3672
Number of pages9
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2006


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics

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