An Analytical Solution to the Kinetics of Breakable Filament Assembly

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Science  11 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5959, pp. 1533-1537
DOI: 10.1126/science.1178250

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Dissecting Amyloid Formation

Amyloid fibrils are associated with clinical disorders ranging from Alzheimer's disease to type II diabetes. Their self-assembly can be described by a master equation that takes into account nucleation-dependent polymerization and fragmentation. Knowles et al. (p. 1533) now present an analytical solution to the master equation, which shows that amyloid growth kinetics is often limited by the fragmentation rate rather than by the rate of primary nucleation. In addition, the results reveal relationships between system properties (scaling laws) that provide mechanistic insight not only into amyloid growth, but also into related self-assembly processes.