How stable is a collagen triple helix? An Ab Initio study on various collagen and β-sheet forming sequences

Villö K. Pálfi, András Perczel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)


Collagen forms the well characterized triple helical secondary structure, stabilized by interchain H-bonds. Here we have investigated the stability of fully optimized collagen triple helices and β-pleated sheets by using first principles (ab initio and DFT) calculations so as to determine the secondary structure preference depending on the amino acid composition. Models composed of a total of 18 amino acid residues were studied at six different amino acid compositions: (i) L-alanine only, (ii) glycine only, (iii) L-alanines and glycine, (iv) L-alanines and D-alanine, (v) L-prolines with glycine, (vi) L-proline, L-hydroxyproline, and glycine. The last two, v and vi, were designed to mimic the core part of collagen. Furthermore, ii, iii, and iv model the binding and/or recognition sites of collagen. Finally, i models the G←A replacement, rare in collagen. All calculated structures show great resemblance to those determined by X-ray crystallography. Calculated triple helix formation affinities correlate well with experimentally determined stabilities derived from melting point (Tm) data of different collagen models. The stabilization energy of a collagen triple helical structure over that of a β-pleated sheet is 2.1 kcal mol-1 per triplet for the [(-Pro-Hyp-Gly-)2]3 collagen peptide. This changes to 4.8 kcal mol-1 per triplet of destabilization energy for the [(-Ala-Ala-Gly-)2]3 sequence, known to be disfavored in collagen. The present study proves that by using first principles methods for calculating stabilities of supramolecular complexes, such as collagen and β-pleated sheets, one can obtain stability data in full agreement with experimental observations, which envisage the applicability of QM in molecular design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1374-1386
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Computational Chemistry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jul 15 2008


  • Ab initio
  • Collagen triple helix
  • DFT
  • Geometry optimization
  • Multiple stranded β-pleated sheet
  • PPG- and POG-supramolecular systems
  • Peptide models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Computational Mathematics

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