Distribution of charged residues stabilizes individual helices in myoglobins

N. R. Kallenbach, Min Lu, N. Vasant Kumar, J. W. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of the distribution of charged residues on stability of alpha helices in isolated peptides and in globular proteins exemplified by myoglobins from 62 different species is discussed. A highly simplified set of rules is used to account for the interaction of charged groups with the dipole of an alpha helix. Only the position and sign of a charge with respect to the center of the helix and its ability to participate in intrahelical salt bridges determine its effect. These rules lead to a linear correlation between the helicity in variant C-peptide helices from RNAse and the extent to which the charge distribution opposes the helix dipole. Of the sample of 496 helices in the myoglobins studied, 456 exhibit arrangements of charges which oppose the effective dipole moment of the helix according to this calculation. A number of variants occur which leave the backbone moment of helices A-D unchanged, or even add to it. However no such variants exist in the sequences of helices E-H. We suggest that the E, F, G and H helices in myoglobins which show the strongest reversal of the helix dipole participate in the structures of early intermediates in folding of the chain. Stable helix structures should be more likely to occur in these isolated sequences also, and introduction of charge alterations in helices E to H should affect the initial refolding rate of mutant myoglobins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-983
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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