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Protein Eng. 1998 Aug;11(8):631-47.

Main-chain conformational features at different conformations of the side-chains in proteins.

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Department of Biochemistry, Bose Institute, Calcutta, India.


An analysis of the known protein structures has shown that the main-chain torsion angles, phi and psi of a residue can be affected by the side-chain torsion angle, chi1. The (chi1, psi) plot of all residues (except Gly, Ala and Pro) show six distinct regions where points are concentrated-although some of these regions are nearly absent in specific cases. The mean of these clusters can show a shift along the psi axis by as much as 30 degrees as chi1 is changed from around 180 to -60 to 60 degrees. Because of the lesser steric constraint points are more diffused along the psi axis when chi1 is approximately -60 degrees. Although points are more spread out along the phi axis in the (chi1, phi) plot, the dependence of phi on chi1 shows up in a shortened phi range (by about 30 degrees) when chi1 is around -60 degrees, and a distinct tendency of clustering of points into two regions when chi1 is approximately equal to 60 degrees, especially for the aromatic residues. Based on the dependence of the backbone conformation on its side-chain the 17 amino acids can be grouped into five classes: (i) aliphatic residues branched at the Cbeta position (although Thr is atypical), (ii) Leu (branched at the Cgamma position), (iii) aromatic residues (Trp can show some deviations), (iv) short polar residues (Asp and Asn), and (v) the remaining linear-chain residues, mainly polar. Ser and Thr have the highest inclination to occur with two different orientations of the side-chain that can be located through crystallography. Such residues exhibiting two chi1 angles have their phi and psi angles in a region that is common to the Ramachandran plots at the two different chi1 angles. The dependence of phi and psi angles on chi1 can be used to understand the helical propensities of some residues. Moreover, the average phi, psi values in the alpha-helices vary with the side-chain conformation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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