Normal and reversed supramolecular chirality of insulin fibrils probed by vibrational circular dichroism at the protofilament level of fibril structure. Academic Article uri icon


  • Fibrils are -sheet-rich aggregates that are generally composed of several protofibrils and may adopt variable morphologies, such as twisted ribbons or flat-like sheets. This polymorphism is observed for many different amyloid associated proteins and polypeptides. In a previous study we proposed the existence of another level of amyloid polymorphism, namely, that associated with fibril supramolecular chirality. Two chiral polymorphs of insulin, which can be controllably grown by means of small pH variations, exhibit opposite signs of vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) spectra. Herein, using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), we demonstrate that indeed VCD supramolecular chirality is correlated not only by the apparent fibril handedness but also by the sense of supramolecular chirality from a deeper level of chiral organization at the protofilament level of fibril structure. Our microscopic examination indicates that normal VCD fibrils have a left-handed twist, whereas reversed VCD fibrils are flat-like aggregates with no obvious helical twist as imaged by atomic force microscopy or scanning electron microscopy. A scheme is proposed consistent with observed data that features a dynamic equilibrium controlled by pH at the protofilament level between left- and right-twist fibril structures with distinctly different aggregation pathways for left- and right-twisted protofilaments.

published proceedings

  • Biophys J

author list (cited authors)

  • Kurouski, D., Dukor, R. K., Lu, X., Nafie, L. A., & Lednev, I. K.

citation count

  • 78

complete list of authors

  • Kurouski, Dmitry||Dukor, Rina K||Lu, Xuefang||Nafie, Laurence A||Lednev, Igor K

publication date

  • January 2012