Helix bending in alamethicin: Molecular dynamics simulations and amide hydrogen exchange in methanol

N Gibbs, R B Sessions, P B Williams, C E Dempsey

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Molecular dynamics simulations of alamethicin in methanol were carried out with either a regular alpha-helical conformation or the x-ray crystal structure as starting structures, The structures rapidly converged to a well-defined hydrogen-bonding pattern with mixed alpha-helical and 3(10)-helical hydrogen bonds, consistent with NMR structural characterization, and did not unfold throughout the 1-ns simulation, despite some sizable backbone fluctuations involving reversible breaking of helical hydrogen bonds, Bending of the helical structure around residues Aib10-Aib13 was associated with reversible flips of the peptide bonds involving G11 (Aib10-G11 or G11-L12 peptide bonds), yielding discrete structural states in which the Aib10 carbonyl or (rarely) the G11 carbonyl was oriented away from the peptide helix, These peptide bond reversals could be accommodated without greatly perturbing the adjacent helical structure, and intramolecular hydrogen bonding was generally maintained in bent states through the formation of new (non-alpha or 3(10)) hydrogen bonds with good geometries: G11 NH-VS CO (inverse gamma turn), Aib13 NH-Aib8 CO (pi-helix) and, rarely, L12 NH- QT NH (pi-helix). These observations may reconcile potentially conflicting NMR structural information for alamethicin in methanol, in which evidence for conformational flexibility in the peptide sequence before P14 (G11-Aib13) contrasts with the stability of backbone amide NH groups to exchange with solvent, Similar reversible reorientation of the Thr11-Gly12 peptide bond of melittin is also observed in dynamics simulations in methanol (R. B. Sessions, N. Gibbs, and C. E, Dempsey, submitted). This phenomenon may have some role in the orientation of the peptide carbonyl in solvating the channel lumen in membrane ion channel stales of these peptides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2490-2495
Number of pages6
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1997


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