The importance of the left-handed polyproline II (PPII) helical conformation has recently become apparent. This conformation generally is involved in two important functions: protein−protein interactions and structural integrity. PPII helices play vital roles in a variety of processes including signal transduction, transcription, and cell motility. Proline-rich regions of sequence are often assumed to adopt this structure. Remarkably, little is known about the physical determinants of this secondary structure type. In this study, we have explored the formation of PPII helices by a short poly(proline) peptide. In addition, the results from experiments used to determine the propensities for apolar residues, plus glycine, asparagine, and glutamine, to adopt this structure in a poly(proline)-based host peptide are reported here. Proline possesses the highest intrinsic propensity, with glutamine, alanine, and glycine having surprisingly high propensities. β-Branched residues possess the lowest propensities of the residues examined. It is postulated that propensities possessed by apolar residues are due in part to peptide−solvent interactions, and that the remarkably high propensity possessed by glutamine may be due to a side chain to backbone hydrogen bond. These data are the first step toward a molecular understanding of the formation of this important, and yet little studied, secondary structure.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/trevor_creamer/10/