Enzymes typically fold into defined 3D protein structures exhibiting a high catalytic efficiency and selectivity. It has been proposed that the earliest enzymes may have arisen from the self-assembly of short peptides into supramolecular amyloid-like structures. Several artificial amyloids have been shown to display catalytic activity while offering advantages over natural enzymes in terms of modularity, flexibility, stability, and reusability. Hydrolases, especially esterases, are the most common artificial amyloid-like nanozymes with some reported to act as carbonic anhydrases (CA). Their hydrolytic activity is often dependent on the binding of metallic cofactors through a coordination triad composed of His residues in the β-strands, which mimic the arrangement found in natural metalloenzymes. Tyr residues contribute to the coordination of metal ions in the active center of metalloproteins; however, their use has been mostly neglected in the design of metal-containing amyloid-based nanozymes. We recently reported that four different polar prion-inspired heptapeptides spontaneously self-assembled into amyloid fibrils. Their sequences lack His but contain three alternate Tyr residues exposed to solvent. We combine experiments and simulations to demonstrate that the amyloid fibrils formed by these peptides can efficiently coordinate and retain different divalent metal cations, functioning as both metal scavengers and nanozymes. The metallized fibrils exhibit esterase and CA activities without the need for a histidine triad. These findings highlight the functional versatility of prion-inspired peptide assemblies and provide a new sequential context for the creation of artificial metalloenzymes. Furthermore, our data support amyloid-like structures acting as ancestral catalysts at the origin of life.
- Amyloid fibrils
- Biocatalytic nanomaterials