Homonuclear and heteronuclear 2D NMR methods are used to study two triple-helical peptides. One peptide, (POG)10, is considered to be the most stable prototype of a triple helix. The second peptide, (POG)3ITGARGLAGPOG(POG)3 (denoted T3-785), was designed to model an imino acid poor region of collagen and contains 12 residues from near the unique collagenase cleavage site in type III collagen. Both peptides associated as trimers, with melting temperatures of 60 °C for (POG)10 and 25 °C for the T3-785 peptide. Sequence-specific assignments were made for a tripeptide unit POG in (POG)10, and 80% of the POG triplets are found to be in an equivalent environment. In T3-785, with nonrepeating X-Y-Gly units incorporated in the sequence, the three chains of the homotrimer can be distinguished from one another by NMR. The solution conformation of (POG)10 is very similar to the model derived from X-ray fiber diffraction data, although the peptide contains less ordered regions at the peptide ends. In the trimer form of T3-785, the central residues of the three chains are closely packed, and the data are consistent with a triple-helical model with a one-residue stagger of three parallel chains. For T3-785, in contrast to (POG)10, there are also resonances from a less ordered form, which are probably due to the presence of a small amount of monomer. The similarity of the backbone conformations of T3-785 and (POG)10 suggests that an alternative conformation is not present in the imino acid poor region.
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