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FEBS Lett. 1990 Oct 29;273(1-2):15-8.

A one-variable topographical descriptor for the beta-turns of peptides and proteins.

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  • 1School of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Victorian College of Pharmacy Ltd., Parkville, Australia.


The beta-turn is a common secondary structure in biologically active peptides and globular proteins, where it is widely thought to serve as a molecular recognition site for many biological processes. Although the primary beta-turn recognition requirements are thought to be straightforward, relating mainly to the relative positions of the peptide sidechains, current classifications of beta-turns are complex and are based solely upon the very variable geometry of the peptide backbone. We demonstrate here that beta-turns can be described in terms of a single dihedral angle, which we have called beta, which provides a complete description of the spatial relationship between the entry and exit peptide bonds as well as the relative orientations of the intervening sidechains for any beta-turn. This description should prove particularly useful in the development and application of novel peptide mimetic drugs, compounds for which a classification based on a peptide backbone geometry may be entirely irrelevant.

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