Received January 26, 2011; Revision received February 15, 2011
Different types of structures closed into cycles are widespread at all the levels of structural organization of proteins. β-Hairpins, triple-stranded β-sheets, and βαβ-units represent simple structural motifs closed into cycles by systems of hydrogen bonds. Secondary closing of these simple motifs into larger cycles by means of different superhelices, split β-hairpins, or SS-bridges results in formation of complex structural motifs such as abcd-units, φ-motifs, five- and seven-segment α/β-motifs, etc. At the level of tertiary structure many proteins and domains fold into structures closed into cylinders. Apparently, closing the motifs and domains into cycles and cylinders results in formation of more cooperative and stable structures as compared with open ones, and this may be the reason for high frequencies of occurrence of the motifs in proteins.
KEY WORDS: βαβ-unit, β-sheet, handedness, split β-hairpin, structural motif, superhelix