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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jun 21;108(25):10174-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103979108. Epub 2011 May 23.

Side-chain hydrophobicity scale derived from transmembrane protein folding into lipid bilayers.

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Thomas C. Jenkins Department of Biophysics, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


The transfer free energies of the twenty natural amino acid side chains from water to phospholipid bilayers make a major contribution to the assembly and function of membrane proteins. Measurements of those transfer free energies will facilitate the identification of membrane protein sequences and aid in the understanding of how proteins interact with membranes during key biological events. We report the first water-to-bilayer transfer free energy scale (i.e., a "hydrophobicity scale") for the twenty natural amino acid side chains measured in the context of a native transmembrane protein and a phospholipid bilayer. Our measurements reveal parity for apolar side-chain contributions between soluble and membrane proteins and further demonstrate that an arginine side-chain placed near the middle of a lipid bilayer is accommodated with much less energetic cost than predicted by molecular dynamics simulations.

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