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Biochemistry. 1995 Jan 17;34(2):569-76.

Polyanion-induced alpha-helical structure of a synthetic 23-residue peptide representing the lysine-rich segment of the N-terminal extension of yeast cytoplasmic aspartyl-tRNA synthetase.

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  • 1Laboratoire d'Enzymologie, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.


Conformational studies were performed on the synthetic tricosapeptide N-acetyl-SKKALKKLQKEQEKQRKKEERAL-amide, representing the highly basic segment (residues 30-52) of the N-terminal extension of yeast cytoplasmic aspartyl-tRNA synthetase. Circular dichroism experiments show that, in aqueous solution at neutral pH, the peptide adopts a random conformation. The effects of pH, temperature, addition of trifluoroethanol (TFE), and titration with polyanions on the conformation of the peptide were studied. In TFE or in the presence of an equimolar concentration of (phosphate)18, the peptide adopts a 100% alpha-helical conformation. A partially alpha-helical conformation is induced by (phosphate)4 or d(pT)8 (respectively 40% and 35% helical content). Raising the pH in aqueous solution promotes 75% alpha-helicity, with a transition pK of 9.9 reflecting deprotonation of lysine residues. On the basis of these results, nuclear magnetic resonance studies were carried out in TFE as well as in aqueous solution in the presence of (phosphate)18, to determine the structure of the molecule. Complete 1H resonance assignments were obtained by conventional two-dimensional NMR techniques. A total of 138 interproton constraints derived from NOESY experiments were used to calculate the three-dimensional structure by a two-stage distance geometry/simulated annealing procedure. The two deduced structures were highly similar and show that nine cationic residues are segregated on one face of a helical structure, providing an ideal polycationic interface for binding to polyanionic surfaces.

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