Most of what we know about proteins reflects their native folded structure. Much less is understood about the structure of unfolded proteins, which tends to be referred to as "random coil", lacking extended α;-helix or β-strand structure. Recent work suggests that unfolded proteins might adopt significant population of PII structure, an extended left-handed helix found in collagen and proline-rich peptides. A series of short peptides AcGGXGGNH2 has been adopted as a model for studying unfolded protein structure because of the minimal steric effect imposed by flanking glycines. Peptide AcGGAGGNH2 makes possible a host-guest conformation analysis of the middle residue alanine. NMR experiments reveal that the Φ and Ψ dihedral angles of the central alanine are -73° and 125°, respectively, placing the alanine in the PII region of the Ramachandran plot. Circular dichroism shows a typical PII spectrum with a strong negative absorbance at 190 nm. Temperature experiments show the alanine structure shifts to increasing β-strand at high temperature. Because the alanine side chain most closely represents unsubstituted peptide backbone, these results have significant implications for the conformational entropy of unfolded polypeptide chains.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry