University of Sydney
Dr MARGARET SUNDE is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences
The formation of stable, fibrillar protein assemblies is associated with many disease states, including Alzheimer's disease and Type II diabetes. These are non-functional deposits. Protein aggregates that have similar structural features but which are functional have been identified in several microorganisms. In these cases the self-assembly of the protein is advantageous to the organism. For example, hydrophobins are fungal proteins that self-assemble in an ordered manner into amphipathic films at air:water interfaces. They reduce the surface tension at air:water boundaries and form very hydrophobic coatings on fungal spore surfaces which facilitate dispersal in air. Hydrophobin assemblies share the ordered beta-sheet structural core that has been characterized in amyloid deposits.