Structural features of transmembrane helices

FEBS Lett. 2004 Feb 13;559(1-3):145-51. doi: 10.1016/S0014-5793(04)00061-4.


A total of 160 transmembrane helices of 15 non-homologous high-resolution X-ray protein structures have been analyzed in respect of their structural features. The dihedral angles and hydrogen bonds of the helical sections that span the hydrophobic interior of the lipid bilayer have been investigated. The Ramachandran plot of protein channels and solute transporters exhibit a significant shift Delta (phi- and psi-angles) of Delta mean (+4.5 degrees and -5.4 degrees ), compared to a reference group of 151 alpha-helices of the same average length derived from water-soluble globular proteins. At the C-termini of transmembrane helices structural motifs equivalent to the Gly-caps of helices in globular proteins have been found, with two third of the transmembrane Gly-caps taking up a primary structure that is typically not found at helix termini exposed to a polar solvent. The structural particularities reported here are relevant for the three-dimensional modelling of membrane protein structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Membrane Proteins