(i) Optical studies on the structures of amyloid peptides and proteins are continuing.We are particularly interested in origin of the very intense CD spectrum which has been associated with the cross-beta structure of amyloid fibrils. This phenomenon is shown by peptides which have been shown to form amyloid with both parallel and anti-parallel beta sheet structure. (ii) In collaboration with the group of T. K. Dayie and B. Chen (Univ. of MD), we have investigated the effect of a small inert cosolute, trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), on the conformational changes of the SAM II riboswitch in the presence of increasing concentrations of the metabolite S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM) and Mg++. The free riboswitch was thought to be in an open or semi-random conformation in the absence of SAM and Mg++ and to become more folded and compact upon binding SAM and/or Mg++. Extensive measurements of the dependence of circular dichroism spectra of the riboswitch upon the concentrations of these small ligands may be quantitatively accounted for by a model, according to which SAM binds exclusively to a compact conformation. In the absence of SAM, the riboswitch seems to be a mixture of open and compact states. Low concentrations of Mg++ or TMAO bind to the open form(s), inhibiting the binding of SAM. At higher concentrations, cooperative binding of Mg++ or molecular crowding by TMAO, transform the riboswitch into the compact form, facilitating the binding of SAM. Further binding of Mg++ increases the affinity of the compact form of the riboswitch for SAM. Hydrodynamic measurements show that the riboswitch is compacted by concentrated TMAO.

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