Research Articles

A thermodynamic scale for the helix-forming tendencies of the commonly occurring amino acids

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Science  02 Nov 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4981, pp. 646-651
DOI: 10.1126/science.2237415


Amino acids have distinct conformational preferences that influence the stabilities of protein secondary and tertiary structures. The relative thermodynamic stabilities of each of the 20 commonly occurring amino acids in the alpha-helical versus random coil states have been determined through the design of a peptide that forms a noncovalent alpha-helical dimer, which is in equilibrium with a randomly coiled monomeric state. The alpha helices in the dimer contain a single solvent-exposed site that is surrounded by small, neutral amino acid side chains. Each of the commonly occurring amino acids was substituted into this guest site, and the resulting equilibrium constants for the monomer-dimer equilibrium were determined to provide a list of free energy difference (delta delta G degree) values.

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