A solenoid design for assessing determinants of parallel β-sheet registration

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A novel protein construct is presented that combines a homotrimeric, triple-stranded β-helix as a guest to a homotrimeric foldon unit from bacteriophage T4 fibritin. The β-helical solenoid selected is short (46 residues) and is part of a subdomain of the T4 cell-puncturing device. The resultant design is trimeric and displays greatly enhanced stability over each sub-component alone. The intended goal is a design that will enable evaluation of sequence determinants that promote in-register versus out-of-register parallel β-sheet homotrimerization. Towards that end, the importance of a set of three buried salt-bridges was evaluated by converting them to residues otherwise consistently found throughout the natural solenoid at the same positions. The critical role of the charged residues in the salt-bridges was evident in that their elimination resulted in amyloid-like aggregation.

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