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J Biomol NMR. 1995 Nov;6(3):227-36. doi: 10.1007/BF00197804.

The relationship between amide proton chemical shifts and secondary structure in proteins.

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Department of Biotechnology, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, 184, Koganei, Tokyo, Japan.


The parameters for HN chemical shift calculations of proteins have been determined using data from high-resolution crystal structures of 15 proteins. Employing these chemical shift calculations for HN protons, the observed secondary structure chemical shift trends of HN protons, i.e., upfield shifts on helix formation and downfield shifts on β-sheet formation, are discussed. Our calculations suggest that the main reason for the difference in NH chemical shifts in helices and sheets is not an effect from the directly hydrogen-bonded carbonyl, which gives rise to downfield shifts in both cases, but arises from an additional upfield shift predicted in helices and originating in residues i-2 and i-3. The calculations also explain the well-known relationship between amide proton shifts and hydrogen-bond lengths. In addition, the HN chemical shifts of the distorted amphipathic helices of the GCN4 leucine zipper are calculated and used to characterise the solution structure of the helices. By comparing the calculated and experimental shifts, it is shown that in general the agreement is good between residues 15 and 28. The most interesting observation is that in the N-terminal half of the zipper, although both calculated and experimental shifts show clear periodicity, they are no longer in phase. This suggests that for the N-terminal half, in the true average solution structure the period of the helix coil is longer by roughly one residue compared to the NMR structures.


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