Environmental polarity induces conformational transitions in a helical peptide sequence from bacteriophage T4 lysozyme and its tandem duplicate: a molecular dynamics simulation study.

Research paper by Harpreet H Kaur, Yellamraju U YU Sasidhar

Indexed on: 17 Mar '15Published on: 17 Mar '15Published in: Journal of Molecular Modeling


Our recent molecular dynamics (MD) simulation of an insertion/duplication mutant 'L20' of bacteriophage T4 lysozyme demonstrated a solvent induced α→β transition in a loosely held duplicate helical region, while α-helical conformation in the parent region was relatively stabilized by its tertiary interactions with the neighboring residues. The solution NMR of the parent helical sequence, sans its protein context, showed no inherent tendency to adopt a particular secondary structure in pure water but showed α-helical propensity in TFE/water and SDS micelles. In this study we investigate the conformational preference of the 'parent' and 'duplicate' sequences, sans the protein context, in pure water and an apolar TFE/water solution. Apolar TFE/water solution is a model for non-polar protein context. We performed MD simulations of the two peptides, in explicit water and 80% (v/v) TFE/water, using GROMOS 53a6 force field, at 300 K and 1 bar (under NPT conditions). We show that in TFE/water mixture, salt bridges are stabilized by apolar TFE molecules and main chain-main chain hydrogen bonds promote the α-helical conformation, particularly in the duplicate peptide. Solvent exposure, in pure water, resulted in an α→β transition to form a triple stranded β-sheet structure in the 'duplicate' sequence, with a rare psi-loop topology, while a mixture of turn/bend conformations were adopted by the 'parent' sequence. Thus the differences in conformational preference of the parent and duplicate sequence sans protein context, in pure water and TFE/water, implicate the importance of the environment polarity in dictating the peptide conformation. Mechanism of folding of the observed psi-loop in the duplicate sequence gives insights into folding of this rare β-sheet topology.