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Biochemistry. 1999 Sep 28;38(39):12727-34.

FTIR-Spectroscopy of multistranded coiled coil proteins.

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Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry Departments of Spectroscopy and Biochemistry D-37018 Goettingen, Federal Republic of Germany.


Coiled coils of different order were investigated using infrared (IR) spectroscopy. Recently, we demonstrated that dimeric coiled coils display unique vibrational spectra with at least three separable bands instead of only one band of a classical alpha-helix in the amide I region. This was attributed to a distortion of the helical structure by the supercoil bending, giving rise to bands that are not observed in the undistorted helix. Here, we investigated coiled coils forming trimers, tetramers, and pentamers. These higher order coiled coils, in general, possess larger superhelical pitches, resulting in a smaller helical distortion. We found that all coiled coils studied, including the native dimeric GCN4 leucine zipper and its variants leading to parallel trimers and tetramers as well as the rod portions of fibritin (parallel trimer), alpha-actinin (antiparallel spectrin type trimer), and COMP (parallel pentamer), displayed the typical three band pattern of the coiled coil amide I spectra. However, the separation of these three bands and their positional deviation from the classical alpha-helical band position was correlated to the extent of the helical distortion as reflected by the pitch values of the supercoils. The most pronounced spectral anomaly was found for the tropomyosin dimer with a reported helical pitch of 137 A, whereas the smallest spectral distortion was found for the pentameric COMP complex and the tetrameric leucine zipper mutant, both with a pitch of about 205 A.

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