Estimation of the number of α-helical and β-strand segments in proteins using circular dichroism spectroscopy



A simple approach to estimate the number of α-helical and β-strand segments from protein circular dichroism spectra is described. The α-helix and β-sheet conformations in globular protein structures, assigned by DSSP and STRIDE algorithms, were divided into regular and distorted fractions by considering a certain number of terminal residues in a given α-helix or β-strand segment to be distorted. The resulting secondary structure fractions for 29 reference proteins were used in the analyses of circular dichroism spectra by the SELCON method. From the performance indices of the analyses, we determined that, on an average, four residues per α-helix and two residues per β-strand may be considered distorted in proteins. The number of α-helical and β-strand segments and their average length in a given protein were estimated from the fraction of distorted α-helix and β-strand conformations determined from the analysis of circular dichroism spectra. The statistical test for the reference protein set shows the high reliability of such a classification of protein secondary structure. The method was used to analyze the circular dichroism spectra of four additional proteins and the predicted structural characteristics agree with the crystal structure data.