Deterministic features of side-chain main-chain hydrogen bonds in globular protein structures.

Protein engineering

PubMedID: 10810153

Eswar N, Ramakrishnan C. Deterministic features of side-chain main-chain hydrogen bonds in globular protein structures. Protein Eng. 2000;13(4):227-38.
A total of 19 835 polar residues from a data set of 250 non-homologous and highly resolved protein crystal structures were used to identify side-chain main-chain (SC-MC) hydrogen bonds. The ratio of the number of SC-MC hydrogen bonds to the total number of polar residues is close to 1:2, indicating the ubiquitous nature of such hydrogen bonds. Close to 56% of the SC-MC hydrogen bonds are local involving side-chain acceptor/donor ('i') and a main-chain donor/acceptor within the window i-5 to i+5. These short-range hydrogen bonds form well defined conformational motifs characterized by specific combinations of backbone and side-chain torsion angles. (a) The Ser/Thr residues show the greatest preference in forming intra-helical hydrogen bonds between the atoms O(gamma)(i) and O(i-4). More than half the examples of such hydrogen bonds are found at the middle of alpha-helices rather than at their ends. The most favoured motif of these examples is alpha(R)alpha(R)alpha(R)alpha(R)(g(-)). (b) These residues also show great preference to form hydrogen bonds between O(gamma)(i) and O(i-3), which are closely related to the previous type and though intra-helical, these hydrogen bonds are more often found at the C-termini of helices than at the middle. The motif represented by alpha(R)alpha(R)alpha(R)alpha(R)(g(+)) is most preferred in these cases. (c) The Ser, Thr and Glu are the most frequently found residues participating in intra-residue hydrogen bonds (between the side-chain and main-chain of the same residue) which are characterized by specific motifs of the form beta(g(+)) for Ser/Thr residues and alpha(R)(g(-)g(+)t) for Glu/Gln. (d) The side-chain acceptor atoms of Asn/Asp and Ser/Thr residues show high preference to form hydrogen bonds with acceptors two residues ahead in the chain, which are characterized by the motifs beta (tt')alphaR and beta(t)alpha(R), respectively. These hydrogen bonded segments, referred to as Asx turns, are known to provide stability to type I and type I' beta-turns. (e) Ser/Thr residues often form a combination of SC-MC hydrogen bonds, with the side-chain donor hydrogen bonded to the carbonyl oxygen of its own peptide backbone and the side-chain acceptor hydrogen bonded to an amide hydrogen three residues ahead in the sequence. Such motifs are quite often seen at the beginning of alpha-helices, which are characterized by the beta(g(+))alpha(R)alpha(R) motif. A remarkable majority of all these hydrogen bonds are buried from the protein surface, away from the surrounding solvent. This strongly indicates the possibility of side-chains playing the role of the backbone, in the protein interiors, to satisfy the potential hydrogen bonding sites and maintaining the network of hydrogen bonds which is crucial to the structure of the protein.