Packing of Alpha-Helices: Simple Coiled-Coils

Francis CRICK

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Item#: 85002 price:$7,500.00

SIGNED BY NOBEL LAUREATE FRANCIS CRICK, SCARCE 1953 OFFPRINT OF HIS PAPER THE PACKING OF ALPHA-HELICES, AT THE CORE OF “A FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPT IN STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY”

CRICK, Francis. The Packing of Alpha-Helices: Simple coiled-Coils. Copenhagen: Fr. Bagges, 1953. Slim octavo, original staple-bound tan self-wrappers; pp. [689]-697. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $7500.

Scarce 1953 offprint of Nobel laureate Crick’s seminal paper on the packing of alpha-helices into coiled-coil structures, issued the same year as its appearance in the journal Acta Crystallographica, signed above the title on the first page by Crick, handsomely housed in a custom clamshell box.

This key paper, together with Crick’s 1952 paper in Nature, and a related one published in the September 1953 Volume VI of Acta Crystallographica, disputed Linus Pauling’s view that “side-chain packing played no role.” Presenting “a detailed and full parametrized model for a sequence periodicity of 7/2… Crick showed that, if alpha-helices were to twist around each other at an angle of about 20°, their side-chains would interlock systematically along the core of the structure… The close packing interactions of hydrophobic residues in the core would provide the energy required to distort the helices, a remarkable insight at a time when the biophysics of protein folding were unknown and even the exact sequence of a protein still remained to be determined” (Lupas & Gruber, “Structure of Alpha-Helical Coiled Coils,” Advances in Protein Chemistry 70). As such, Crick persuasively disputed claims that the “alpha-keratin pattern cannot be explained in terms of the alpha-helix. The general features of the observed X-ray pattern can be predicted merely by postulating that the alpha-helices tend to pack side-by-side in a knobs-into-holes manner… The inherent plausibility of such a form of packing… make it probable that it forms the basis of the structure of fibrous proteins” (690, 697). “Subsequent determinations of coiled-coil-protein sequences and structures confirmed the key features of Crick’s model and established it as a fundamental concept in structural biology” (Woolfson, Journal of Structural Biology). With these insights, Crick learned “useful lessons about the need for simplifying assumptions and the importance of visualizing reality as well as analyzing it… All these ingredients would be crucial in the story of the double helix” (Ridley, 43). Crick received a 1962 Nobel Prize with Watson and Wilkins for their revolutionary discoveries about “the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material” (Nobel Committee). Initially issued in the journal, Acta Crystallographica Vol. VI, 689-697: the same journal volume as his accompanying paper, “The Fourier Transform of a Coiled-Coil” (Acta Crystallographica Vol. VI, 685-689). Small owner signature.

A fine signed copy.

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