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Protein Eng. 1999 Jul;12(7):535-48.

Amino acid neighbours and detailed conformational analysis of cysteines in proteins.

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Biostructure and Protein Engineering Group, Department of Life Science, Aalborg University, Sohngaardsholmsvej 57, DK-9000 Aalborg, Denmark.


Here we present an investigation of the contacts that cysteines make with residues in their three-dimensional environment and a comprehensive analysis of the conformational features of 351 disulphide bridges in 131 non-homologous single-chain protein structures. Upstream half-cystines preferentially have downstream neighbours, whereas downstream half-cystines have mainly upstream neighbours. Non-disulphide bridged cysteines (free cysteines) have no preference for upstream or downstream neighbours. Free cysteines have more contacts to non-polar residues and fewer contacts to polar/charged residues than half-cystines, which correlates with our observation that free cysteines are more buried than half-cystines. Free cysteines prefer to be located in alpha-helices while no clear preference is observed for half-cystines. Histidine and methionine are preferentially seen nearby free cysteines. Tryptophan is found preferentially nearby half-cystines. We have merged sequential and spatial information, and highly interesting novel patterns have been discovered. The number of cysteines per protein is typically an even number, peaking at four. The number of residues separating two half-cystines is preferentially 11 and 16. Left-handed and right-handed disulphide bridges display different conformational parameters. Here we present side chain torsion angle information based on a 5-12 times larger number of disulphide bridges than has previously been published. Considering the importance of cysteines for maintaining the 3D-structural scaffold of proteins, it is essential to have as accurate information as possible concerning the packing and conformational preferences. The present work may provide key information for engineering the protein environment around cysteines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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