Significance of aromatic-backbone amide interactions in protein structure

Gergely Tóth, Charles R. Watts, Richard F. Murphy, Sándor Lovas

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90 Scopus citations


Weakly polar interactions between aromatic rings of amino acids and hydrogens of backbone amides (Ar-HN) have been shown to support local structures in proteins. Their role in secondary structures, however, has not been elucidated. To investigate the relationship between Ar-HN interaction and the stability of local and secondary structures of polypeptides and to improve the prediction of this interaction based on amino acid sequence, the structures of 560 nonhomologous proteins, from the Protein Data Bank, were searched for Ar-HN interactions between the aromatic ring of each Phe, Tyr, and Trp residue at position i and the backbone amide group of any residue, except Pro, at the positions i, i - 1, i - 2, i -3, i + 1, i + 2, and i + 3. Ar-HN interactions were identified by calculating the chemical shift of the amide hydrogen caused by the proximal aromatic ring. Ar(i)-HN(i + 1, i + 2 and i + 3) interactions were more common (7.10%, 2.08%, and 0.54%, respectively) than were Ar(i)-HN(i - 1, i - 2, and i - 3) interactions (0.66%, 1 torsion angle of the aromatic residue in position i depended on the direction of the Ar-HN interaction. The position of the aromatic ring in Ar(i)-HN(i + 1, i + 2, and i + 3) interactions was mostly trans, in Ar(i)-HN(i - 1, i - 2, and i - 3) interactions mainly gauche(-), and in Ar(i)-HN(i) interactions mostly gauche(+). The analyses of the secondary structures of the protein fragments containing Ar-HN interactions showed that Ar-HN interactions were in all types of secondary structures. Search results suggest that Ar-HN interactions have a stabilizing effect on all types of secondary structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-381
Number of pages9
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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