|Topic:||Forces Controlling Protein Structure .|
|Details:|| Hydrogen Bonding:
Polypeptides contain numerous proton donors and acceptors both in their backbone and in the R-groups of the amino acids. The environment in which proteins are found also contains the ample H-bond donors and acceptors of the water molecule. H-bonding, therefore, occurs not only within and between polypeptide chains but with the surrounding aqueous medium.
Proteins are composed of amino acids that contain either hydrophilic or hydrophobic R-groups. It is the nature of the interaction of the different R-groups with the aqueous environment that plays the major role in shaping protein structure. The spontaneous folded state of globular proteins is a reflection of a balance between the opposing energetics of H-bonding between hydrophilic R-groups and the aqueous environment and the repulsion from the aqueous environment by the hydrophobic R-groups. The hydrophobicity of certain amino acid R-groups tends to drive them away from the exterior of proteins and into the interior. This driving force restricts the available conformations into which a protein may fold.
Electrostatic forces are mainly of three types; charge-charge, charge-dipole and dipole-dipole. Typical charge-charge interactions that favor protein folding are those between oppositely charged R-groups such as K or R and D or E. A substantial component of the energy involved in protein folding is charge-dipole interactions. This refers to the interaction of ionized R-groups of amino acids with the dipole of the water molecule. The slight dipole moment that exist in the polar R-groups of amino acid also influences their interaction with water. It is, therefore, understandable that the majority of the amino acids found on the exterior surfaces of globular proteins contain charged or polar R-groups.
van der Waals Forces:
There are both attractive and repulsive van der Waals forces that control protein folding. Attractive van der Waals forces involve the interactions among induced dipoles that arise from fluctuations in the charge densities that occur between adjacent uncharged non-bonded atoms. Repulsive van der Waals forces involve the interactions that occur when uncharged non-bonded atoms come very close together but do not induce dipoles. The repulsion is the result of the electron-electron repulsion that occurs as two clouds of electrons begin to overlap.
Although van der Waals forces are extremely weak, relative to other forces governing conformation, it is the huge number of such interactions that occur in large protein molecules that make them significant to the folding of proteins.
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