Transthyretin (TTR) is a 55 kDa protein responsible for the transport of thyroid hormones and retinol in human serum. Misfolded forms of the protein are implicated in the amyloid diseases familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy and senile systemic amyloidosis. Its folding properties and stabilization by ligands are of current interest due to their importance in understanding and combating these diseases. To assist in such studies we developed a method for the solid phase synthesis of the monomeric unit of a TTR analogue and its folding to form a functional 55 kDa tetramer. The monomeric unit of the protein was chemically synthesized in three parts, comprising amino acid residues 1–51, 54–99 and 102–127, and ligated using chemoselective thioether ligation chemistry. The synthetic protein was folded and assembled to a tetrameric structure in the presence of the TTR's native ligand, thyroxine, as shown by gel filtration chromatography, native gel electrophoresis, TTR antibody recognition and thyroid hormone binding. In the current study the solution structure of the first of these fragment peptides, TTR(1–51) is examined to determine its intrinsic propensity to form β-sheet structure, potentially involved in amyloid fibril formation by TTR. Despite the presence of extensive β-structure in the native form of the protein, the N-terminal fragment adopts an essentially random coil conformation in solution.
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