• TFE;
  • fluoroalcohol;
  • Trp-cage;
  • intermolecular NOE;
  • NOE;
  • peptide–solvent interactions


It has been suggested that aggregation of fluorinated alcohols in water solutions is involved with the abilities of these alcohols to provoke conformational changes in peptides and proteins. The extent of fluoroalcohol aggregation depends on the degree of fluorination: hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP) is more extensively aggregated than is TFE. We previously described a study of the interactions of HFIP with the peptide Trp-cage and provided evidence for the formation of long-lived complexes between this fluoroalcohol and the peptide. In the present work, we have examined the interactions of the less-fluorinated TFE with Trp-cage, in order to probe the role of fluoroalcohol aggregation in the phenomena observed. Intermolecular 1H{19F} nuclear Overhauser effects arising from interactions of TFE with the hydrogens of the peptide in a solution containing 42% TFE were determined at sample temperatures from 5 to 45°C. It is shown that the folded state of the peptide under these conditions is essentially the same as that observed in water and in 30% HFIP-water. The observed peptide–solvent NOEs indicate formation of complexes of Trp-cage with TFE that persist for times of the order of 1 ns. The interactions leading to complexes with TFE are somewhat weaker than those involved in complex formation with HFIP. There are no indications that the aggregation of fluoroalcohol is a necessary concomitant of the interactions of TFE or HFIP with Trp-cage. Rather, the stronger and more long-lived interactions of HFIP with Trp-cage appear to be primarily the result of the greater hydrogen-bonding ability and hydrophobicity of this fluoroalcohol. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 87: 115–123, 2007.

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