Helix content of peptides with various uncharged nonaromatic amino acids at either the N-terminal or C-terminal position has been determined. The choice of N-terminal amino acid has a major effect on helix stability: asparagine is the best, glycine is very good, and glutamine is the worst helix-stabilizing amino acid at this position. The rank order of helix stabilization parallels the frequencies of these amino acids at the N-terminal boundary (N-cap) position of helices in proteins found by Richardson and Richardson [Richardson, J. S. & Richardson, D. C. (1988) Science 240, 1648-1652], and the N-terminal amino acid in a peptide composed of helix-forming amino acids may be considered as the N-cap residue. The choice of C-terminal amino acid has only a minor effect on helix stability. N-capping interactions may be responsible for the asymmetric distribution of helix content within a given peptide found by various workers. An acetyl group on the N-terminal α-amino function cancels the N-cap effect and the acetyl group is equivalent to N-terminal asparagine in an unacetylated peptide. Our results demonstrate a close relationship between the mechanisms of α-helix formation in peptides and in proteins.
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 1993|
- Helix stability
- N-cap and C-cap residues
- Protein folding