We have demonstrated that, among proteins of the same size, alpha/beta proteins have on the average a greater number of contacts per residue due to their more compact (more "spherical") structure, rather than due to tighter packing. We have examined the relationship between the average number of contacts per residue and folding rates in globular proteins according to general protein structural class (all-alpha, all-beta, alpha/beta, alpha+beta). Our analysis demonstrates that alpha/beta proteins have both the greatest number of contacts and the slowest folding rates in comparison to proteins from the other structural classes. Because alpha/beta proteins are also known to be the oldest proteins, it can be suggested that proteins have evolved to pack more quickly and into looser structures.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.