Structural determinants of the conformations of medium‐sized loops in proteins

Anna Tramontano, Cyrus Chothia, Arthur M. Lesk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Loops are integral components of protein structures, providing links between elements of secondary structure, and in many cases contributing to catalytic and binding sites. The conformations of short loops are now understood to depend primarily on their amino acid sequences. In contrast, the structural determinants of longer loops involve hydrogen‐bonding and packing interactions within the loop and with other parts of the protein. By searching solved protein structures for regions similar in main chain conformation to the antigen‐binding loops in immunoglobulins, we identified medium‐sized loops of similar structure in unrelated proteins, and compared the determinants of their conformations. For loops that form compact substructures the major determinant of the conformation is the formation of hydrogen bonds to inward‐pointing main chain atoms. For oops that have more extended conformations, the major determinant of their structure is the packing of a particular residue or residues against the rest of the protein. The following picture emerges: Medium‐sized lops of similar conformation are stabilized by similar interaction. The groups that interact with the loop have very similar spatial dispositions with respect to the loop. However, the residues that provide these interactions may arise from dissimilar parts of the protein: The conformation of the loop requires certain interactions that the protein may provide in a variety of ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-394
Number of pages13
JournalProteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Structural determinants of the conformations of medium‐sized loops in proteins'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this