Weakly polar interactions between the side-chain aromatic rings and hydrogens of backbone amides (Ar-HN) are found in unique conformational regions. To characterize these conformational regions and to elucidate factors that determine the conformation of the Ar-HN interactions, four 4-ns molecular dynamics simulations were performed using four different low-energy conformations obtained from simulated annealing and one extended conformation of the model tripeptide Ac-Phe-Gly-Gly-NH-CH3 as starting structures. The Ar(i)-HN(i+1) interactions were 4 times more frequent than were Ar(i)-HN(i+2) interactions. Half of the conformations with Ar(i)-HN(i+2) interactions also contained an Ar(i)-HN(i+1) interaction. The solvent access surface area of the Phe side chain and of the amide groups of Phe1, Gly2, and Gly3 involved in Ar-HN interactions was significantly smaller than in residues not involved in such interactions. The number of hydrogen bonds between the solvent and Phe1, Gly2, and Gly3 amide groups was also lower in conformations with Ar-HN interactions. For each trajectory, structures that contained Ar(i)-HN(i), Ar(i)-HN(i+1), and Ar(i)-HN(i+2) interactions were clustered on the basis of similarity of selected torsion angles. Attraction energies between the aromatic ring and the backbone amide in representative conformations of the clusters ranged from -1.98 to -9.24 kJ mol-1 when an Ar-HN interaction was present. The most representative conformations from the largest clusters matched well with the conformations from the Protein Data Bank of Phe-Gly-Gly protein fragments containing Ar-HN interactions.
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