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Stabilizing forces in proteins
#1 Posted : Saturday, July 10, 2021 8:47:01 PM
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From my understanding, the hydrophobic effect has the greatest stabilizing and folding effect because it favourably increases the entropy of the system (molecules solvated in aqueous solution) by reducing the salvation shell.

On the other hand, I was taught in undergraduate studies that hydrogen bonds and electrostatic interactions do not contribute as much to stability (only a little) because any interactions formed are simply negated by the breaking of hydrogen bonds between the solute and water molecules.

Sulphide bonds also stabilize, though they do not dictate folding.

I was hoping that someone could verify these facts for me. I second-guessed them for as long as I can remember and spend way too much time trying to be 100% certain.

Thank you so much for your help!
#2 Posted : Sunday, July 11, 2021 6:41:13 PM
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Hello Aleksandra,

I think (from my understanding) that your question here is what is the strongest vs. weakest force stabilizing protein structure. Let me know if that's not the case.

The strongest influence for protein structure and stability is first and foremost covalent interactions, followed by non-covalent interactions such as hydrophobic interactions, as you have said. When I say covalent interactions, I am talking about the carbon-carbon, carbon-nitrogen, etc. bonds that contributes to primary structure, which dictates protein shape and folding. Hydrophobic forces are the next greatest contributor to shape of the protein, and is the main driving force for the shape that the protein will retain. Electrostatic and hydrogen bonds contribute in the form of van-der-waals forces, which are not as influential in the structure of the protein as it can be quite easily broken, but it does help in dictating the structure of the stabilized protein.

As for disulfide bonds, it contributes greatly to the structure as it is a covalent bond, but they do not dictate folding as you have said.

I hope that that makes it more clear. Let me know if you have any more questions.


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