Circular dichroism spectra of short, fixed-nucleus alanine helices

July 28, 2017


Circular dichroism spectra of short, fixed-nucleus alanine helices


Der-Hang Chin, Robert W. Woody, Carol A. Rohl, Robert L. Baldwin






Very short alanine peptide helices can be studied in a fixed-nucleus, helix-forming system [Siedlicka, M., Goch, G., Ejchart, A., Sticht, H. & Bierzynski, A. (1999) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 96, 903–908]. In a 12-residue sequence taken from an EF-hand protein, the four C-terminal peptide units become helical when the peptide binds La3 , and somewhat longer helices may be made by adding alanine residues at the C terminus. The helices studied here contain 4, 8, or 11 peptide units. Surprisingly, these short fixed-nucleus helices remain almost fully helical from 4 to 65°C, according to circular dichroism results reported here, and in agreement with titration calorimetry results reported recently. These peptides are used here to define the circular dichroism properties of short helices, which are needed for accurate measurement of helix propensities. Two striking properties are: (i) the temperature coefficient of mean peptide ellipticity depends strongly on helix length; and (ii) the intensity of the signal decreases much less rapidly with helix length, for very short helices, than supposed in the past. The circular dichroism spectra of the short helices are compared with new theoretical calculations, based on the experimentally determined direction of the NV1 transition moment.




Circular dichroism, Secondary structure, Protein folding, Protein denaturation, Ligand binding, Biochemistry