Circular Dichroism of Amino Acids: Following the Structural Formation of Phenylalanine

Nadav Amdursky, Molly M. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Circular dichroism (CD) is frequently used to assess the secondary structure of peptides and proteins, whereas less attention has been given to their building blocks, that is, single amino acids, as they do not possess a secondary structure. Here, we follow the CD signal of amino acids and reveal that several acids exhibit a unique CD pattern as a function of their concentration. Accordingly, we propose an eight-level classification of the CD signal of the various amino acids. Special focus is given to the CD pattern of phenylalanine (Phe), for which we observe the formation of an ultra-narrow CD peak (full width at high maximum of only 5 nm). This CD peak can be attributed to the formation of Phe-based chiral structural features. Further support for the formation of an ordered structure is given by using NMR, and the additional self-assembly process of Phe to tubular structures. On form: The chirality of amino acids shows unique concentration-dependent behaviour for some amino acids, as observed by circular dichroism (CD). Special focus is given to phenylalanine, which shows a narrow CD pattern, indicative of its self-assembly process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2768-2774
Number of pages7
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • amino acids
  • circular dichroism
  • concentration dependence
  • phenylalanine
  • self-assembly

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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