A systematic analysis of the beta hairpin motif in the Protein Data Bank

Protein Sci. 2021 Mar;30(3):613-623. doi: 10.1002/pro.4020. Epub 2021 Jan 7.


The beta hairpin motif is a ubiquitous protein structural motif that can be found in molecules across the tree of life. This motif, which is also popular in synthetically designed proteins and peptides, is known for its stability and adaptability to broad functions. Here, we systematically probe all 49,000 unique beta hairpin substructures contained within the Protein Data Bank (PDB) to uncover key characteristics correlated with stable beta hairpin structure, including amino acid biases and enriched interstrand contacts. We find that position specific amino acid preferences, while seen throughout the beta hairpin structure, are most evident within the turn region, where they depend on subtle turn dynamics associated with turn length and secondary structure. We also establish a set of broad design principles, such as the inclusion of aspartic acid residues at a specific position and the careful consideration of desired secondary structure when selecting residues for the turn region, that can be applied to the generation of libraries encoding proteins or peptides containing beta hairpin structures.

Keywords: PDB; beta hairpin; computational biology; protein design.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Databases, Protein*
  • Proteins* / chemistry
  • Proteins* / genetics


  • Proteins