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J Mol Biol. 1999 Nov 5;293(4):807-14.

Turns in transmembrane helices: determination of the minimal length of a "helical hairpin" and derivation of a fine-grained turn propensity scale.

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Department of Biochemistry, Stockholm University, Stockholm, S-106 91, Sweden.


We have recently reported a first experimental turn propensity scale for transmembrane helices. This scale was derived from measurements of how efficiently a given residue placed in the middle of a 40 residue poly(Leu) stretch induces the formation of a "helical hairpin" with two rather than one transmembrane segment. We have now extended these studies, and have determined the minimum length of a poly(Leu) stretch compatible with the formation of a helical hairpin. We have also derived a more fine-grained turn propensity scale by (i) introducing each of the 20 amino acid residues into the middle of the shortest poly(Leu) stretch compatible with helical hairpin formation, and (ii) introducing pairs of residues in the middle of the 40 residue poly(Leu) stretch. The new turn propensities are consistent with the amino acid frequencies found in short hairpin loops in membrane proteins of known 3D structure.

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