Terminal residues in protein chains: residue preference, conformation, and interaction

D Pal, P Chakrabarti


The known protein structures have been analyzed to find out if there is any pattern in the type of residues used and their conformation at the two terminal positions of the polypeptide chains. While the N-terminal position is overwhelmingly occupied by Met (followed by Ala and Ser), the preference for the C-terminal is not as distinct, the residues with highest propensities being Lys, Arg, Gln, and Asn. Only one main-chain torsion angle, psi, can be defined for the N-terminal residue, which is found to be in the extended conformation due to a favorable electrostatic interaction between the charged amino group and the carbonyl oxygen atom. The distribution of the angle phi for the C-terminal residue, on the other hand, is not much different from that of the nonterminal residues. There are some differences in the distribution of the side-chain torsion angle chi1 of both the terminal residues from the general distribution. The terminal segments are generally flexible and there is a tendency for the more ordered residues to have lesser solvent exposure. About 40% of the terminal groups form a hydrogen bond with protein atoms--a slight preference is observed for the side-chain atoms (more than half of which belong to charged residue...Continue Reading


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