Amino acid side-chain partition energies and distribution of residues in soluble proteins

Biophys J. 1985 Jan;47(1):61-70. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(85)83877-7.


Energies required to transfer amino acid side chains from water to less polar environments were calculated from results of several studies and compared with several statistical analyses of residue distributions in soluble proteins. An analysis that divides proteins into layers parallel with their surfaces is more informative than those that simply classify residues as exposed or buried. Most residues appear to be distributed as a function of the distance from the protein-water interface in a manner consistent with partition energies calculated from partitioning of amino acids between water and octanol phases and from solubilities of amino acids in water, ethanol, and methanol. Lys, Arg, Tyr, and Trp residues tend to concentrate near the water-protein interface where their apolar side-chain components are more buried than their polar side-chain components. Residue distributions calculated in this manner do not correlate well with side-chain solvation energies calculated from vapor pressures of side-chain analogs over a water phase. Results of statistical studies that classify residues as exposed to solvent or buried inside the protein interior appear to depend on the method used to classify residues. Data from some of these studies correlate better with solvation energies, but other data correlate better with partition energies. Most other statistical methods that have been used to evaluate effects of water on residue distributions yield results that correlate better with partition energies than with solvation energies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proteins*
  • Solubility
  • Thermodynamics
  • Water


  • Amino Acids
  • Proteins
  • Water