European journal of biochemistry

Secondary structure of the Arg-Gly-Asp recognition site in proteins involved in cell-surface adhesion. Evidence for the occurrence of nested beta-bends in the model hexapeptide GRGDSP.

PMID 3203684


The primary sequence Arg-Gly-Asp has been found in a number of proteins which bind to cell surface receptors. Studies with synthetic peptides have shown that the presence of charged side chains alone is not sufficient to confer binding activity. Application of folding algorithms to proteins and peptides having similar sequences indicates that binding activity is strongly correlated with the presence of two or more closely spaced residues that each have a high probability of initiating a beta-bend. Circular dichroic studies on the hexapeptide GRGDSP, whose sequence is contained in fibronectin and which also shows binding activity, demonstrate that it adopts an unusual conformation in aqueous solution. 1H-NMR spectra of the peptide in aqueous solution show that the two amide hydrogens of Asp4 and Ser5 exchange very slowly. Computer-assisted modeling using restrained molecular dynamics and energy minimization results in conformations that include two beta-bends of type III-III or III-I (hydrogen bonds 4----1 and 5----2), fully consistent with constraints imposed by 1H- and 13C-NMR data. It is suggested that this unusual secondary structure provides an additional specificity determinant.

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Arg-Gly-Asp, ≥97% (TLC)