Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Faculty Research


Probing Ion Channel Activity of Human Islet Amyloid Polypeptide (Amylin)

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2012


Interactions of human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP or amylin) with the cell membrane are correlated with the dysfunction and death of pancreatic islet β-cells in type II diabetes. Formation of receptor-independent channels by hIAPP in membrane is regarded as one of the membrane-damaging mechanisms that induce ion homeostasis and toxicity in islet β-cells. Here, we investigate the dynamic structure, ion conductivity, and membrane interactions of hIAPP channels in the DOPC bilayer using molecular modeling and molecular dynamics simulations. We use the NMR-derived β-strand-turn-β-strand motif as a building block to computationally construct a series of annular-like hIAPP structures with different sizes and topologies. In the simulated lipid environments, the channels lose their initial continuous β-sheet network and break into oligomeric subunits, which are still loosely associated to form heterogeneous channel conformations. The channels’ shapes, morphologies and dimensions are compatible with the doughnut-like images obtained by atomic force microscopy, and with those of modeled channels for Aβ, the β2-microglobulin-derived K3 peptides, and the β-hairpin-based channels of antimicrobial peptide PG-1. Further, all channels induce directional permeability of multiple ions across the bilayers from the lower to the upper leaflet. This similarity suggests that loosely-associated β-structure motifs can be a general feature of toxic, unregulated channels. In the absence of experimental high-resolution atomic structures of hIAPP channels in the membrane, this study represents a first attempt to delineate some of the main structural features of the hIAPP channels, for a better understanding of the origin of amyloid toxicity and the development of pharmaceutical agents.





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