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Solvent effects on the energy landscapes and folding kinetics of polyalanine

Solvent effects on the energy landscapes and folding kinetics of polyalanine

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 98(5): 2188-2193

The effect of a solvation on the thermodynamics and kinetics of polyalanine (Ala(12)) is explored on the basis of its energy landscapes in vacuum and in an aqueous solution. Both energy landscapes are characterized by two basins, one associated with alpha-helical structures and the other with coil and beta-structures of the peptide. In both environments, the basin that corresponds to the alpha-helical structure is considerably narrower than the basin corresponding to the beta-state, reflecting their different contributions to the entropy of the peptide. In vacuum, the alpha-helical state of Ala(12) constitutes the native state, in agreement with common helical propensity scales, whereas in the aqueous medium, the alpha-helical state is destabilized, and the beta-state becomes the native state. Thus solvation has a dramatic effect on the energy landscape of this peptide, resulting in an inverted stability of the two states. Different folding and unfolding time scales for Ala(12) in hydrophilic and hydrophobic chemical environments are caused by the higher entropy of the native state in water relative to vacuum. The concept of a helical propensity has to be extended to incorporate environmental solvent effects.

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Accession: 009979419

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 11226214

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.041611998

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