The β-Peptide Hairpin in Solution: Conformational Study of a β-Hexapeptide in Methanol by NMR Spectroscopy and MD Simulation
The structural and thermodn. properties of a 6-residue β-peptide I that was designed to form a hairpin conformation have been studied by NMR spectroscopy and mol. dynamics simulation in methanol soln. The predicted hairpin would be characterized by a 10-membered hydrogen-bonded turn involving residues 3 and 4, and two extended antiparallel strands. The interproton distances and backbone torsional dihedral angles derived from the NMR expts. at room temp. are in general terms compatible with the hairpin conformation. Two trajectories of system configurations from 100-ns mol.-dynamics simulations of the peptide in soln. at 298 and 340 K have been analyzed. In both simulations, reversible folding to the hairpin conformation is obsd. Interestingly, there is a significant conformational overlap between the unfolded state of the peptide at each of the temps. As already obsd. in previous studies of peptide folding, the unfolded state is composed of a (relatively) small no. of predominant conformers and in this case lacks any type of secondary-structure element. The trajectories provide an excellent ground for the interpretation of the NMR-derived data in terms of ensemble avs. and distributions as opposed to single-conformation interpretations. From this perspective, a relative population of the hairpin conformation of 20% to 30% would suffice to explain the NMR-derived data. Surprisingly, however, the ensemble of structures from the simulation at 340 K reproduces more accurately the NMR-derived data than the ensemble from the simulation at 298 K, and this point needs further investigation.