Association of a model transmembrane peptide containing gly in a heptad sequence motif

Biophys J. 2004 Nov;87(5):3421-9. doi: 10.1529/biophysj.103.032839. Epub 2004 Aug 17.


A peptide containing glycine at a and d positions of a heptad motif was synthesized to investigate the possibility that membrane-soluble peptides with a Gly-based, left-handed helical packing motif would associate. Based on analytical ultracentrifugation in C14-betaine detergent micelles, the peptide did associate in a monomer-dimer equilibrium, although the association constant was significantly less than that reported for the right-handed dimer of the glycophorin A transmembrane peptide in similar detergents. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) experiments conducted on peptides labeled at their N-termini with either tetramethylrhodamine (TMR) or 7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazole (NBD) also indicated association. However, analysis of the FRET data using the usual assumption of complete quenching for NBD-TMR pairs in the dimer could not be quantitatively reconciled with the analytical ultracentrifugation-measured dimerization constant. This led us to develop a general treatment for the association of helices to either parallel or antiparallel structures of any aggregation state. Applying this treatment to the FRET data, constraining the dimerization constant to be within experimental uncertainty of that measured by analytical ultracentrifugation, we found the data could be well described by a monomer-dimer equilibrium with only partial quenching of the dimer, suggesting that the helices are most probably antiparallel. These results also suggest that a left-handed Gly heptad repeat motif can drive membrane helix association, but the affinity is likely to be less strong than the previously reported right-handed motif described for glycophorin A.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dimerization
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer / methods*
  • Glycine / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Protein Binding


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Peptides
  • Glycine