Switch-peptides as folding precursors in self-assembling peptides and amyloid fibrillogenesis

Gabriele Tuchscherer, Arunan Chandravarkar, Marie Stéphanie Camus, Jérémy Bérard, Karine Murat, Adrian Schmid, Richard Mimna, Hilal A. Lashuel, Manfred Mutter

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33 Citations (Scopus)


The study of conformational transitions of peptides has obtained considerable attention recently because of their importance as a molecular key event in a variety of degenerative diseases. However, the study of peptide self-assembly into β-sheets and amyloid β (Aβ) fibrils is strongly hampered by their difficult synthetic access and low solubility. We have recently developed a new concept termed "switch-peptides" that allows the controlled onset of polypeptide folding and misfolding at physiologic conditions. As a major feature, the folding process is initiated by chemically or enzyme triggered O,N-acyl migration in flexible and soluble folding precursors containing Ser- or Thr-derived switch (S)-elements. The elaborated methodologies are exemplified for the in situ conversion of NPY- and Cyclosporine A-derived prodrugs, as well as for the onset and reversal of α and β conformational transitions in Aβ peptides. In combining orthogonally addressable switch-elements, the consecutive switching on of S-elements gives new insights into the role of individual peptide segments ("hot spots") in early processes of polypeptide self-assembly and fibrillogenesis. Finally, the well-known secondary structure disrupting effect of pseudoprolines (ψPro) is explored for its use as a building block (S-element) in switch-peptides. To this end, synthetic strategies are described, allowing for the preparation of ψ Pro-containing folding precursors, exhibiting flexible random-coil conformations devoid of fibril forming propensity. The onset of β-sheet and fibril formation by restoring the native peptide chain in a single step classify ψ Pro-units as the most powerful tool for inhibiting peptide self-assembly, and complement the present methodologies of the switch-concept for the study of fibrillogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-252
Number of pages14
JournalBiopolymers - Peptide Science Section
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2007



  • Amyloid β fibrillogenesis
  • Conformational transitions
  • Enzyme-triggered O,N-acyl migration
  • Folding precursors
  • Pseudoprolines (ψ Pro)
  • Self-assembling peptides
  • Switch-peptides
  • α-helix to β-sheet reversal
  • β-sheet disruption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Organic Chemistry

Cite this

Tuchscherer, G., Chandravarkar, A., Camus, M. S., Bérard, J., Murat, K., Schmid, A., Mimna, R., Lashuel, H. A., & Mutter, M. (2007). Switch-peptides as folding precursors in self-assembling peptides and amyloid fibrillogenesis. Biopolymers - Peptide Science Section, 88(2), 239-252. https://doi.org/10.1002/bip.20663