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Protein stability for single substitution mutants and the extent of local compactness in the denatured state

, : Protein stability for single substitution mutants and the extent of local compactness in the denatured state. Protein Engineering 7(10): 1209-1220

The stability changes caused by single amino acid substitutions are studied by a simple, empirical method which takes account of the free energy change in the compact denatured state as well as in the native state. The conformational free energy is estimated from effective inter-residue contact energies, as evaluated in our previous study. When this method is applied, with a simple assumption about the compactness of the denatured state, for single amino acid replacements at Glu49 of the tryptophan synthase alpha subunit and at Ile3 of bacteriophage T4 lysozyme, the estimates of the unfolding Gibbs free energy changes correlate well with observed values, especially for hydrophobic amino acids, and it also yields the same magnitudes of energy as the observed values for both proteins. When it is also applied for amino acid replacements at various positions to estimate the average number of contacts at each position in the denatured state from the observed value of unfolding free energy change, those values for replacements with Gly and Ala at the same residue position in staphylococcal nuclease correlate well with each other. The estimated numbers of contact indicate that the protein is not fully expanded in the denatured state and also that the compact denatured state may have a substantially native-like topology, like the molten globule state, in that there is a weak correlation between the estimated average number of contacts at each residue position in the denatured state and the number of contacts in the native structure. These results provide some further evidence that the inter-residue contact energies as applied here (i) properly reflect actual inter-residue interactions and (ii) can be considered to be a pair wise hydrophobicity scale. Also, the results indicate that characterization of the denatured state is critical to understanding the folding process.


PMID: 7855136

DOI: 10.1093/protein/7.10.1209

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