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Proteins. 1989;6(4):382-94.

Structural determinants of the conformations of medium-sized loops in proteins.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Federal Republic of Germany.


Loops are integral components of protein structures, providing links between elements of secondary structure, and in many cases contributing to catalytic and binding sites. The conformations of short loops are now understood to depend primarily on their amino acid sequences. In contrast, the structural determinants of longer loops involve hydrogen-bonding and packing interactions within the loop and with other parts of the protein. By searching solved protein structures for regions similar in main chain conformation to the antigen-binding loops in immunoglobulins, we identified medium-sized loops of similar structure in unrelated proteins, and compared the determinants of their conformations. For loops that form compact substructures the major determinant of the conformation is the formation of hydrogen bonds to inward-pointing main chain atoms. For loops that have more extended conformations, the major determinant of their structure is the packing of a particular residue or residues against the rest of the protein. The following picture emerges: Medium-sized loops of similar conformation are stabilized by similar interactions. The groups that interact with the loop have very similar spatial dispositions with respect to the loop. However, the residues that provide these interactions may arise from dissimilar parts of the protein: The conformation of the loop requires certain interactions that the protein may provide in a variety of ways.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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