Strength of CH···π interactions in the C-terminal subdomain of villin headpiece


  • This work is dedicated to Dr. Harold A. Scheraga on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

  • This article was originally published online as an accepted preprint. The “Published Online” date corresponds to the preprint version. You can request a copy of the preprint by emailing the Biopolymers editorial office at biopolymers@wiley. com


The relative free energies of the folded structures of the seven model peptides with PLX (X = W, Y, F, H, and A) and ALX (X = W and A) sequences to the corresponding extended structures are calculated using the density functional methods in water to evaluate the relative strengths of CH···π interactions, especially proline···aromatic interactions for the PLX motif of the C-terminal subdomain of villin headpiece. It has been found that the Pro···π contacts for the folded structures of the PLW, PLY, PLF, and PLH peptides have in common a geometric pattern having the edge of the Pro ring interacting with the face of the aromatic ring, as found for functionally important Pro residues in proteins. At the M06-2X/cc-pVTZ//SMD M06-2X/6-31+G(d) level of theory, the relative stabilities of the folded structures to the extended structures are obtained in the order PLW > ALW > PLA > PLH > PLY > ALA > PLF by the conformational Gibbs free energies in water, which is reasonably consistent with the observed results from the CD thermal analysis for wild-type and mutants of the C-terminal subdomains of villin headpieces. Although the interaction energies excluding the solvation free energies play a role in determining the relative stabilities of the PLX and ALX peptides, the solvation and entropic terms are found to be of consequence, too. In particular, it has been known that ∼40% of the total interaction energy of the PLW peptide is ascribed to the CH···π interactions of the contacting side chains for Pro and Trp residues, in which the dispersion terms play a role. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 97: 778–788, 2012.