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Biopolymers. 2003 Jan;68(1):121-9.

The molecular basis of the temperature- and pH-induced conformational transitions in elastin-based peptides.

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  • 1Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7610,, USA.


Elastin undergoes an inverse temperature transition and collapses at high temperatures in both simulation and experiment. We investigated a pH-dependent modification of this transition by simulating a glutamic acid (Glu)-substituted elastin at varying pHs and temperatures. The Glu-substituted peptide collapsed at higher temperature than the unsubstituted elastin when Glu was charged. The charge effects could be reversed by neutralization of the Glu carboxyl groups at low pH, and in that case the peptide collapsed at a lower temperature. The collapse was accompanied by the formation of beta-turns and short distorted beta-sheets. Formation of contacts between hydrophobic side chains drives the collapse at high temperature, but interactions between water and polar groups (Glu and main chain) can attenuate this effect at high pH. The overall competition and balance of the polar and nonpolar groups determined the conformational states of the peptide. Water hydration contributed to the conformational transition, and the peptide and its hydration shell must be considered. Structurally, waters near polar residues mainly formed hydrogen bonds with the protein atoms, while waters around the hydrophobic side chains tended to be parallel to the peptide groups to maximize water-water interactions.

Copyright 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 68: 121-129, 2003

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