How thick is the layer of thermal volume surrounding the protein?

Biophys Chem. 2006 Mar 1;120(1):44-54. doi: 10.1016/j.bpc.2005.09.024. Epub 2005 Oct 20.


Investigation on the volume properties of protein hydration layers is reported. Presented results are based on combination of Monte Carlo modeling and available experimental data. Six globular proteins with known data are chosen for analysis. Analyzing the model and the experimental results we found that water molecules bound to proteins by hydrogen bond are preferentially located at the places with local depressions on the protein surface. Consequently, the hydration level is not strictly proportional to the area of charged and polar surfaces, but also depends on the shape of the molecular surface. The thickness of the thermal volume layer as calculated in the framework of the scaled particle theory is 0.6-0.65 A for chosen proteins. The obtained value is significantly lower than that presented for proteins in earlier papers (where proportionality between the hydration level and the area of charged and polar surfaces was assumed), but is close to the value published for small solute molecules. Discussion including the influence of protein size and the thermal motion of the surface is presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Protein Structure, Secondary*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Thermodynamics
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Proteins
  • Water