Ramachandran plots (RPs) map the wealth of conformations of the polypeptide backbone and are widely used to characterize protein structures. A limitation of the RPs is that they are based solely on two dihedral angles for each amino acid residue and provide therefore only a partial picture of the conformational richness of the protein. Here we extend the structural RP analysis of proteins from a two-dimensional (2D) map to a three-dimensional map by adding the quantitative degree of chirality - the continuous chirality measure (CCM) - of the amino acid residue at each point in the RP. This measure encompasses all bond angles and bond lengths of an amino acid residue. We focus in this report on glycine (Gly) because, due to its flexibility, it occupies a large portion of the 2D map, thus allowing a detailed study of the chirality measure, and in order to evaluate the justification of classically labeling Gly as the only achiral amino acid. We have analyzed in detail 4366 Gly residues extracted from high resolution crystallographic data of 160 proteins. This analysis reveals not only that Gly is practically always conformationally chiral, but that upon comparing with the backbone of all amino acids, the quantitative chirality values of Gly are of similar magnitudes to those of the (chiral) amino acids. Structural trends and energetic considerations are discussed in detail. Generally we show that adding chirality to Ramachandran plots creates far more informative plots that highlight the sensitivity of the protein structure to minor conformational changes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
*(I.T.-A.) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. *(D.A.) E-mail: email@example.com. ORCID Inbal Tuvi-Arad: 0000-0003-0418-9915 Funding Supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 411/ 15) and the Open University of Israel’s Research Fund (grant no. 504801). Notes The authors declare no competing financial interest.
© 2017 American Chemical Society.