Effects of varied sequence pattern on the self-assembly of amphipathic peptides

Naomi R. Lee, Charles J. Bowerman, Bradley L. Nilsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Amphipathic peptides have an increased propensity to self-assemble into amyloid-like β-sheet fibrils when their primary sequence pattern consists of alternating hydrophobic and hydrophilic amino acids. These fibrils adopt a bilayer architecture composed of two β-sheets laminated to bury the hydrophobic side chains of the β-sheet in the bilayer interior, leaving the hydrophilic side chains exposed at the bilayer surface. In this study, the effects of altering the sequence pattern of amphipathic peptides from strictly alternating hydrophobic/hydrophilic repeats to more complex patterning of hydrophobic and hydrophilic residues on self-assembly of the resulting sequences is reported. Self-assembly of the Ac-(FKFE)2-NH2 peptide was compared to that of four related sequences with varied amino acid sequence patterning: Ac-(FK)2(FE)2-NH2, Ac-KEFFFFKE-NH2, Ac-(KFFE)2-NH2, and Ac-FFKEKEFF-NH2. The Ac-(FKFE)2-NH2 and Ac-(FK)2(FE)2-NH2 peptides effectively self-assembled at high (1.0 mM) and low (0.2 mM) concentrations (pH 3-4) into β-sheet nanoribbons that were 8 and 4 nm wide, respectively. The Ac-KEFFFFKE-NH2 peptide failed to self-assemble at low concentration (pH 3-4), but self-assembled into distinct nanotapes that were ∼20 nm in width at high concentration. Ac-(KFFE)2-NH2 and Ac-FFKEKEFF-NH2 failed to self-assemble into fibril/tape-like materials at either high or low concentration at pH 3-4, although Ac-FFKEKEFF-NH2 formed micelle-like aggregates at higher concentrations. At neutral pH, similar self-assembly behavior was observed for each peptide as was observed at acidic pH. An exception was the Ac-FFKEKEFF-NH2 peptide, which formed ∼20 nm nanotapes at neutral pH. These results indicate that amino acid sequence patterns exert a profound influence on self-assembly propensity and morphology of the resulting materials even when the overall hydrophobicity or charge of the related peptides are identical. Sequence pattern variation can thus be exploited as a variable in the creation of novel materials composed of self-assembled peptides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3267-3277
Number of pages11
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 9 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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