Asparagine and glutamine differ in their propensities to form specific side chain-backbone hydrogen bonded motifs in proteins



Short range side chain-backbone hydrogen bonded motifs involving Asn and Gln residues have been identified from a data set of 1370 protein crystal structures (resolution ≤ 1.5 Å). Hydrogen bonds involving residues i − 5 to i + 5 have been considered. Out of 12,901 Asn residues, 3403 residues (26.4%) participate in such interactions, while out of 10,934 Gln residues, 1780 Gln residues (16.3%) are involved in these motifs. Hydrogen bonded ring sizes (Cn, where n is the number of atoms involved), directionality and internal torsion angles are used to classify motifs. The occurrence of the various motifs in the contexts of protein structure is illustrated. Distinct differences are established between the nature of motifs formed by Asn and Gln residues. For Asn, the most highly populated motifs are the C10 (COδi …NHi + 2), C13 (COδi …NHi + 3) and C17 (NδHi …COi − 4) structures. In contrast, Gln predominantly forms C16 (COεi …NHi − 3), C12 (NεHi …COi − 2), C15 (NεHi …COi − 3) and C18 (NεHi …COi − 4) motifs, with only the C18motif being analogous to the Asn C17structure. Specific conformational types are established for the Asn containing motifs, which mimic backbone β-turns and α-turns. Histidine residues are shown to serve as a mimic for Asn residues in side chain-backbone hydrogen bonded ring motifs. Illustrative examples from protein structures are considered. Proteins 2012; © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.