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J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Mar 16;127(10):3346-52.

Effect of proline and glycine residues on dynamics and barriers of loop formation in polypeptide chains.

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Division of Biophysical Chemistry, Biozentrum der Universität Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 70, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.


Glycine and proline residues are frequently found in turn and loop structures of proteins and are believed to play an important role during chain compaction early in folding. We investigated their effect on the dynamics of intrachain loop formation in various unstructured polypeptide chains. Loop formation is significantly slower around trans prolyl peptide bonds and faster around glycine residues compared to any other amino acid. However, short loops are formed fastest around cis prolyl bonds with a time constant of 6 ns for end-to-end contact formation in a four-residue loop. Formation of short loops encounters activation energies in the range of 15 to 30 kJ/mol. The altered dynamics around glycine and trans prolyl bonds can be mainly ascribed to their effects on the activation energy. The fast dynamics around cis prolyl bonds, in contrast, originate in a higher Arrhenius pre-exponential factor, which compensates for an increased activation energy for loop formation compared to trans isomers. All-atom simulations of proline-containing peptides indicate that the conformational space for cis prolyl isomers is largely restricted compared to trans isomers. This leads to decreased average end-to-end distances and to a smaller loss in conformational entropy upon loop formation in cis isomers. The results further show that glycine and proline residues only influence formation of short loops containing between 2 and 10 residues, which is the typical loop size in native proteins. Formation of larger loops is not affected by the presence of a single glycine or proline residue.

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