Use of a Small Peptide Fragment as an Inhibitor of Insulin Fibrillation Process: A Study by High and Low Resolution Spectroscopy

Victor Banerjee, Rajiv K. Kar, Aritreyee Datta, Krupakar Parthasarathi, Subhrangsu Chatterjee, Kali P. Das, Anirban Bhunia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


A non-toxic, nine residue peptide, NIVNVSLVK is shown to interfere with insulin fibrillation by various biophysical methods. Insulin undergoes conformational changes under certain stress conditions leading to amyloid fibrils. Fibrillation of insulin poses a problem in its long-term storage, reducing its efficacy in treating type II diabetes. The dissociation of insulin oligomer to monomer is the key step for the onset of fibrillation. The time course of insulin fibrillation at 62°C using Thioflavin T fluorescence shows an increase in the lag time from 120 min without peptide to 236 min with peptide. Transmission electron micrographs show branched insulin fibrils in its absence and less inter-fibril association in its presence. Upon incubation at 62°C and pH 2.6, insulin lost some α-helical structure as seen by Fourier transformed infra-red spectroscopy (FT-IR), but if the peptide is added, secondary structure is almost fully maintained for 3 h, though lost partially at 4 h. FT-IR spectroscopy also shows that insulin forms the cross beta structure indicative of fibrils beyond 2 h, but in the presence of the peptide, α-helix retention is seen till 4 h. Both size exclusion chromatography and dynamic light scattering show that insulin primarily exists as trimer, whose conversion to a monomer is resisted by the peptide. Saturation transfer difference nuclear magnetic resonance confirms that the hydrophobic residues in the peptide are in close contact with an insulin hydrophobic groove. Molecular dynamics simulations in conjunction with principal component analyses reveal how the peptide interrupts insulin fibrillation. In vitro hemolytic activity of the peptide showed insignificant cytotoxicity against HT1080 cells. The insulin aggregation is probed due to the inter play of two key residues, PheB24 and TyrB26 monitored from molecular dynamics simulations studies. Further new peptide based leads may be developed from this nine residue peptide.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere72318
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
StatePublished - 29 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)
  • General


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