Molecular dynamics simulations of helix folding: the effects of amino acid substitution

Shen Shu Sung, Xiong Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Molecular dynamics simulations were applied to helix folding of alanine-based synthetic peptides. A single alanine residue in the middle of the peptide was substituted with various nonpolar amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine, glycine, or praline) to study the effect of the substitution. Unlike many other molecular dynamics simulations, nonhelical initial conformations were used in our simulations to study the folding process. An average solvent effect was included in the energy function to simplify the solvent calculation and to overcome the multiple minima problem. During the simulations, the peptides folded into helices in nanoseconds. Compact structures containing two helical segments were also observed. The calculated helical ratios of the peptides showed the same rank order as observed experimentally for the alanine-based peptides. Within a peptide, the helical ratio of each residue was calculated and a minimum was found near the center of the sequence for all peptides. The substitutions had different asymmetric effects on the helical ratios of the residues preceding and following the substitution site, indicating different helix capping preferences of the substituting amino acids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-644
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Organic Chemistry


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