The role of hydroxyproline in collagen folding: conformational energy calculations on oligopeptides containing proline and hydroxyproline

Bansal, M. ; Ananthanarayanan, V. S. (1988) The role of hydroxyproline in collagen folding: conformational energy calculations on oligopeptides containing proline and hydroxyproline Biopolymers, 27 (2). pp. 299-312. ISSN 0006-3525

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We have observed that the rate of folding of the enzymatically hydroxylated form of poly(Gly-Pro-Pro) into the triple-helical conformation is considerably higher than that of the unhydroxylated polypeptide. In this study, we examine a plausible kinetic pathway for triple-helix formation by selecting peptide models for the unhydroxylated collagen molecule, and computing their conformational energies before and after proline hydroxylation. Starting with the available data on the preferred conformations of proline- and hydroxyproline-containing peptide sequences, energy minimization was carried out on the following pairs of peptides: Gly-Ala-Pro-Gly-Ala and Gly-Ala-Hyp-Gly-Ala; Gly-Pro-Pro-Gly-Ala and Gly-Pro-Hyp-Gly-Ala; Gly-Ala-Pro-Gly-Ala-Pro and Gly-Ala-Hyp-Gly-Ala-Hyp. It was found that, with each pair of peptides, the energetically most favorable conformation (I) has an extended structure at the Gly-Ala or Gly-Pro segment and a ß-bend at the Pro-Gly or Hyp-Gly segment. In the Hyp-containing peptides, this conformation is further stabilized by a (Hypi + 2)OH…OC(Glyi) hydrogen bond. Conformation I is lower in energy by about 6-13 kcal/mol of the peptide than the fully extended conformations that resemble the single collagen polypeptide chain and contain no intramolecular hydrogen bond. In contrast to the proline counterpart, the hydroxyproline-containing peptides are found capable of adopting a partially extended conformation that does not contain the β-bend but retains the (Hyp)OH…OC(Gly) hydrogen bond. The energy of this conformation is intermediate between conformation I and the fully extended conformation. The continuation of the β-bend along the chain is restricted by stereochemical constraints that are more severe in the latter two pairs of peptides than in the first pair. Such a restriction may be considered to trigger the "unbending" of the minimum energy conformation leading to its straightening into the fully extended conformation; the latter, in turn, would lead to triple-helix formation through favorable interchain interactions. We propose that the partially extended conformation in the Hyp-containing peptides could serve as a kinetic intermediate on the way to forming the fully extended conformation. Because of the (Hypi + 2)OH…OC(Glyi) hydrogen bond, this conformation would also serve to lock the trans geometry at the Gly-Ala(Pro) and Ala(Pro)-Hyp peptide bonds, thereby enhancing the rate of their helix formation. A scheme for collagen folding in proposed on the basis of these results.

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