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J Mol Biol. 2005 Feb 11;346(1):377-85. Epub 2004 Dec 13.

A study of the membrane-water interface region of membrane proteins.

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Stockholm Bioinformatics Center, AlbaNova, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.


The most conspicuous structural characteristic of the alpha-helical membrane proteins is their long transmembrane alpha-helices. However, other structural elements, as yet largely ignored in statistical studies of membrane protein structure, are found in those parts of the protein that are located in the membrane-water interface region. Here, we show that this region is enriched in irregular structure and in interfacial helices running roughly parallel with the membrane surface, while beta-strands are extremely rare. The average amino acid composition is different between the interfacial helices, the parts of the transmembrane helices located in the interface region, and the irregular structures. In this region, hydrophobic and aromatic residues tend to point toward the membrane and charged/polar residues tend to point away from the membrane. The interface region thus imposes different constraints on protein structure than do the central hydrocarbon core of the membrane and the surrounding aqueous phase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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