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J Mol Biol. 1991 Nov 20;222(2):311-33.

Relationship between nuclear magnetic resonance chemical shift and protein secondary structure.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511.


An analysis of the 1H nuclear magnetic resonance chemical shift assignments and secondary structure designations for over 70 proteins has revealed some very strong and unexpected relationships. Similar studies, performed on smaller databases, for 13C and 15N chemical shifts reveal equally strong correlations to protein secondary structure. Among the more interesting results to emerge from this work is the finding that all 20 naturally occurring amino acids experience a mean alpha-1H upfield shift of 0.39 parts per million (from the random coil value) when placed in a helical configuration. In a like manner, the alpha-1H chemical shift is found to move downfield by an average of 0.37 parts per million when the residue is placed in a beta-strand or extended configuration. Similar changes are also found for amide 1H, carbonyl 13C, alpha-13C and amide 15N chemical shifts. Other relationships between chemical shift and protein conformation are also uncovered; in particular, a correlation between helix dipole effects and amide proton chemical shifts as well as a relationship between alpha-proton chemical shifts and main-chain flexibility. Additionally, useful relationships between alpha-proton chemical shifts and backbone dihedral angles as well as correlations between amide proton chemical shifts and hydrogen bond effects are demonstrated.

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