Side-chain conformational entropy in protein unfolded states

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69 Scopus citations


The largest force disfavoring the folding of a protein is the loss of conformational entropy. A large contribution to this entropy loss is due to the side-chains, which are restricted, although not immobilized, in the folded protein. In order to accurately estimate the loss of side-chain conformational entropy that occurs upon folding it is necessary to have accurate estimates of the amount of entropy possessed by side-chains in the ensemble of unfolded states. A new scale of side-chain conformational entropies is presented here. This scale was derived from Monte Carlo computer simulations of small peptide models. It is demonstrated that the entropies are independent of host peptide length. This new scale has the advantage over previous scales of being more precise with low standard errors. Better estimates are obtained for long (e.g., Arg and Lys) and rare (e.g., Trp and Met) side-chains. Excellent agreement with previous side-chain entropy scales is achieved, indicating that further advancements in accuracy are likely to be small at best. Strikingly, longer side-chains are found to possess a smaller fraction of the theoretical maximum entropy available than short side-chains. This indicates that rotations about torsions after χ2 are significantly affected by side-chain interactions with the polypeptide backbone. This finding invalidates previous assumptions about side-chain-backbone interactions. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-450
Number of pages8
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 15 2000


  • Monte Carlo computer simulation
  • Protein folding
  • Side-chain rotamer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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