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J Mol Biol. 1996 Jan 26;255(3):494-506.

Analysis of main chain torsion angles in proteins: prediction of NMR coupling constants for native and random coil conformations.

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  • 1Oxford Centre for Molecular Sciences, University of Oxford, U.K.


Using a data base of 85 high resolution protein crystal structures the distributions of main chain torsion angles, both in secondary structure and in coil regions where no secondary structure is present, have been analysed. These torsion angle distributions have been used to predict NMR homonuclear and heteronuclear coupling constants for residues in secondary structure using known Karplus relationships. For alpha helices, 3(10) helices and beta strands mean predicted 3JHN alpha coupling constants are 4.8, 5.6 and 8.5 Hz, respectively. These values differ significantly from those expected for the ideal phi angles (3.9, 3.0 and 8.9 Hz; phi = -57 degrees, -49 degrees, -139 degrees for alpha and 3(10) helices and beta strands (antiparallel), respectively) in regular secondary structure, but agree well with available experimental NMR data for nine proteins. The crystallographic data set has also been used to provide a basis for interpreting coupling constants measured for peptides and denatured proteins. Using a model for a random coil, in which all residues adopt distributions of phi, psi angles equivalent to those seen for residues in the coil regions of native folded proteins, predicted 3JHN alpha values for different residue types have been found to range from 5.9 Hz and 6.1 Hz for glycine and alanine, respectively, to 7.7 Hz for valine. A good correlation has been found between the predicted 3JHN alpha coupling constants for this model and experimental values for a set of peptides that other evidence suggest are highly unstructured. For other peptides, however, deviations from the predictions of the model are clear and provide evidence for additional interactions within otherwise disordered states. The values of homonuclear and heteronuclear coupling constants derived from the protein data base listed here therefore provide a basis not only for analysing the secondary structure of native proteins in solution but for assessing and interpreting the extent of structure present in peptides and non-native states of proteins.

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