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Helical Structures in Proteins

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journal contribution
posted on 23.05.2001, 00:00 by Josh P. Kemp, Jeff Z. Y. Chen
We examine a minimal model for helix-forming polymers. The monomer−monomer potential energy is based on the anisotropic potentials seen in proteins and is used in conjunction with a wormlike backbone. We show that the coil−helix transition involves four states. As the temperature is lowered, the first observed state is a coil state, the second a collapsed globular, the third a highly flexible helical state, and the fourth a crystalline helical state. We discuss in detail what effect the potential energy form has on these various states by systematically varying the potential from strongly anisotropic to isotropic. The data demonstrate that the foldability of a helix is strongly related to anisotropic nature of the potential. In the isotropic case, we show that the transition following a globular collapse is not first order as postulated for these systems. In the strongly anisotropic case the globular−helix transition is consistent with cooperative first-order-like behavior.