Characterizing hydrophobicity of amino acid side chains in a protein environment via measuring contact angle of a water nanodroplet on planarpeptide network

Chongqin Zhu, Yurui Gao, Hui Li, Sheng Meng, Lei Li, Joseph S. Francisco, Xiao Cheng Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Hydrophobicity of macroscopic planar surface is conventionally characterized by the contact angle of water droplets. However, this engineering measurement cannot be directly extended to surfaces of proteins, due to the nanometer scale of amino acids and inherent nonplanar structures. To measure the hydrophobicity of side chains of proteins quantitatively, numerous parameters were developed to characterize behavior of hydrophobic solvation. However, consistency among these parameters is not always apparent. Herein, we demonstrate an alternative way of characterizing hydrophobicity of amino acid side chains in a protein environment by constructing a monolayer of amino acids (i.e., artificial planar peptide network) according to the primary and the β-sheet secondary structures of protein so that the conventional engineering measurement of the contact angle of a water droplet can be brought to bear. Using molecular dynamics simulations, contact angles θ of a water nanodroplet on the planar peptide network, together with excess chemical potentials of purely repulsive methane-sized Weeks-Chandler-Andersen solute, are computed. All of the 20 types of amino acids and the corresponding planar peptide networks are studied. Expectedly, all of the planar peptide networks with nonpolar amino acids are hydrophobic due to θ > 90°, whereas all of the planar peptide networks of the polar and charged amino acids are hydrophilic due to θ < 90°. Planar peptide networks of the charged amino acids exhibit complete-wetting behavior due to θ = 0°. This computational approach for characterization of hydrophobicity can be extended to artificial planar networks of other soft matter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12946-12951
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume113
Issue number46
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 15 2016

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Keywords

  • Amino Acids
  • Contact Angle
  • Hydrophobicity
  • Nanodroplet
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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