High temperature unfolding simulations of the TRPZ1 peptide.
ABSTRACT: We report high temperature molecular dynamics simulations of the unfolding of the TRPZ1 peptide using an explicit model for the solvent. The system has been simulated for a total of 6 mus with 100-ns minimal continuous stretches of trajectory. The populated states along the simulations are identified by monitoring multiple observables, probing both the structure and the flexibility of the conformations. Several unfolding and refolding transition pathways are sampled and analyzed. The unfolding process of the peptide occurs in two steps because of the accumulation of a metastable on-pathway intermediate state stabilized by two native backbone hydrogen bonds assisted by nonnative hydrophobic interactions between the tryptophan side chains. Analysis of the un/folding kinetics and classical commitment probability calculations on the conformations extracted from the transition pathways show that the rate-limiting step for unfolding is the disruption of the ordered native hydrophobic packing (Trp-zip motif) leading from the native to the intermediate state. But, the speed of the folding process is mainly determined by the transition from the completely unfolded state to the intermediate and specifically by the closure of the hairpin loop driven by formation of two native backbone hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic contacts between tryptophan residues. The temperature dependence of the unfolding time provides an estimate of the unfolding activation enthalpy that is in agreement with experiments. The unfolding time extrapolated to room temperature is in agreement with the experimental data as well, thus providing a further validation to the analysis reported here.
Project description:A complete description of how a protein folds requires the characterization of intermediate conformations traversed during the folding transition. We have calculated dynamics trajectories of a simplified model of the Fyn SH3 domain with a native-centric potential energy function. Analysis of the resulting site-resolved energy trajectory identifies an ensemble of intermediate conformations for folding and another for unfolding. The model's folding intermediate is structured in the three beta-strands that make up the protein's core and is strikingly similar to intermediates detected in a recent NMR study of Fyn SH3 folding and to folding transition states elucidated in mutagenesis studies of SH3 domains. The unfolding intermediate is formed by dissociation of the folded protein's two terminal beta-strands from its core. The presence of such an intermediate is consistent with the results of a protein-engineering study on the src SH3 domain showing that these strands separate before the rate-limiting step of unfolding. Despite the presence of these conformations intermediate between the native and fully unfolded states, the computed heat capacity vs. temperature profile of the model protein indicates that its thermodynamics satisfies the usual calorimetric criterion for two-state folding. This observation highlights the fact that, if not properly interpreted, methods such as calorimetry that do not probe multiple sites in a molecule can lead to an oversimplified view of folding. The close agreement between results from this simplified model and experimental work underscores the important contributions that computational methods can make in providing insights into protein folding.
Project description:We provide a time- and structure-resolved characterization of the folding of the heterogeneous ?-hairpin peptide Tryptophan Zipper 2 (Trpzip2) using 2D IR spectroscopy. The amide I' vibrations of three Trpzip2 isotopologues are used as a local probe of the midstrand contacts, ?-turn, and overall ?-sheet content. Our experiments distinguish between a folded state with a type I' ?-turn and a misfolded state with a bulged turn, providing evidence for distinct conformations of the peptide backbone. Transient 2D IR spectroscopy at 45 °C following a laser temperature jump tracks the nanosecond and microsecond kinetics of unfolding and the exchange between conformers. Hydrogen bonds to the peptide backbone are loosened rapidly compared with the 5-ns temperature jump. Subsequently, all relaxation kinetics are characterized by an observed 1.2 ± 0.2-?s exponential. Our time-dependent 2D IR spectra are explained in terms of folding of either native or nonnative contacts from a common compact disordered state. Conversion from the disordered state to the folded state is consistent with a zip-out folding mechanism.
Project description:The folding of the B-domain of staphylococcal protein A has been studied by coarse-grained canonical and multiplexed replica-exchange molecular dynamics simulations with the UNRES force field in a broad range of temperatures (270 K < or = T < or = 350 K). In canonical simulations, the folding was found to occur either directly to the native state or through kinetic traps, mainly the topological mirror image of the native three-helix bundle. The latter folding scenario was observed more frequently at low temperatures. With increase of temperature, the frequency of the transitions between the folded and misfolded/unfolded states increased and the folded state became more diffuse with conformations exhibiting increased root-mean-square deviations from the experimental structure (from about 4 A at T = 300 K to 8.7 A at T = 325 K). An analysis of the equilibrium conformational ensemble determined from multiplexed replica exchange simulations at the folding-transition temperature (T(f) = 325 K) showed that the conformational ensemble at this temperature is a collection of conformations with residual secondary structures, which possess native or near-native clusters of nonpolar residues in place, and not a 50-50% mixture of fully folded and fully unfolded conformations. These findings contradict the quasi-chemical picture of two- or multistate protein folding, which assumes an equilibrium between the folded, unfolded, and intermediate states, with equilibrium shifting with temperature but with the native conformations remaining essentially unchanged. Our results also suggest that long-range hydrophobic contacts are the essential factor to keep the structure of a protein thermally stable.
Project description:We examine the dynamical folding pathways of the C-terminal beta-hairpin of protein G-B1 in explicit solvent at room temperature by means of a transition-path sampling algorithm. In agreement with previous free-energy calculations, the resulting path ensembles reveal a folding mechanism in which the hydrophobic residues collapse first followed by backbone hydrogen-bond formation, starting with the hydrogen bonds inside the hydrophobic core. In addition, the path ensembles contain information on the folding kinetics, including solvent motion. Using the recently developed transition interface sampling technique, we calculate the rate constant for unfolding of the protein fragment and find it to be in reasonable agreement with experiments. The results support the validation of using all-atom force fields to study protein folding.
Project description:To understand how protein reduces the conformational space to be searched for the native structure, it is crucial to characterize ensembles of conformations on the way of folding processes, in particular ensembles of relatively long-range structures connecting between an extensively unfolded state and a state with a native-like overall chain topology. To analyze such intermediate conformations, we performed multiple unfolding molecular dynamics simulations of barnase at 498K. Some short-range structures such as part of helix and turn were well sustained while most of the secondary structures and the hydrophobic cores were eventually lost, which is consistent with the results by other experimental and computational studies. The most important novel findings were persistence of long-range relatively compact substructures, which was captured by exploiting the concept of module. Module is originally introduced to describe the hierarchical structure of a globular protein in the native state. Modules are conceptually such relatively compact substructures that are resulted from partitioning the native structure of a globular protein completely into several contiguous segments with the least extended conformations. We applied this concept of module to detect a possible hierarchical structure of each snapshot structure in unfolding processes as well. Along with this conceptual extension, such detected relatively compact substructures are named quasi-modules. We found almost perfect persistence of quasi-module boundaries that are positioned close to the native module boundaries throughout the unfolding trajectories. Relatively compact conformations of the quasi-modules seemed to be retained mainly by hydrophobic interactions formed between residues located at both terminal regions within each module. From these results, we propose a hypothesis that hierarchical folding with the early formation of quasi-modules effectively reduces search space for the native structure.
Project description:G-proteins play a central role in signal transduction by fluctuating between "on" and "off" phases that are determined by a conformational change. cAMP is a secondary messenger whose formation is inhibited or stimulated by activated Gi?1 or Gs? subunit. We used tryptophan fluorescence, UV/vis spectrophotometry, and circular dichroism to probe distinct structural features within active and inactive conformations from wild-type and tryptophan mutants of Gi?1 and Gs?. For all proteins studied, we found that the active conformations were more stable than the inactive conformations, and upon refolding from higher temperatures, activated wild-type subunits recovered significantly more native structure. We also observed that the wild-type subunits partially regained the ability to bind nucleotide. The increased compactness observed upon activation was consistent with the calculated decrease in solvent accessible surface area for wild-type Gi?1. We found that as the temperature increased, G? subunits, which are known to be rich in ?-helices, converted to proteins with increased content of ?-sheets and random coil. For active conformations from wild-type and tryptophan mutants of Gi?1, melting temperatures indicated that denaturation starts around hydrophobic tryptophan microenvironments and then radiates toward tyrosine residues at the surface, followed by alteration of the secondary structure. For Gs?, however, disruption of secondary structure preceded unfolding around tyrosine residues. In the active conformations, a ?-cation interaction between essential arginine and tryptophan residues, which was characterized by a fluorescence-measured red shift and modeled by molecular dynamics, was also shown to be a contributor to the stability of G? subunits. The folding properties of G? subunits reported here are discussed in the context of diseases associated to G-proteins.
Project description:Crucial to revealing mechanistic details of protein folding is a characterization of the transition state ensemble and its structural dynamics. To probe the transition state of ubiquitin thermal unfolding, we examine unfolding dynamics and kinetics of wild-type and mutant ubiquitin using time-resolved nonlinear infrared spectroscopy after a nanosecond temperature jump. We observe spectral changes on two different time scales. A fast nonexponential microsecond phase is attributed to downhill unfolding from the transition state region, which is induced by a shift of the barrier due to the rapid temperature change. Slow millisecond changes arise from thermally activated folding and unfolding kinetics. Mutants that stabilize or destabilize beta strands III-V lead to a decreased or increased amplitude of the microsecond phase, indicating that the disruption or weakening of these strands occurs in the transition state. Unfolding features from microseconds to milliseconds can be explained by temperature-dependent changes of a two-dimensional free energy surface constructed by the native contacts between beta strands of the protein. In addition, the results support the possibility of an intermediate state in thermal unfolding.
Project description:Although the intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence of proteins offers a convenient probe of protein folding, interpretation of the fluorescence spectrum is often difficult because it is sensitive to both global and local changes. Infrared (IR) spectroscopy offers a complementary measure of structural changes involved in protein folding, because it probes changes in the secondary structure of the protein backbone. Here we demonstrate the advantages of using multiple probes, infrared and fluorescence spectroscopy, to study the folding of the FBP28 WW domain. Laser-induced temperature jumps coupled with fluorescence or infrared spectroscopy have been used to probe changes in the peptide backbone on the submillisecond time scale. The relaxation dynamics of the ?-sheets and ?-turn were measured independently by probing the corresponding IR bands assigned in the amide I region. Using these wavelength-dependent measurements, we observe three kinetics phases, with the fastest process corresponding to the relaxation kinetics of the turns. In contrast, fluorescence measurements of the wild-type WW domain and tryptophan mutants exhibit single-exponential kinetics with a lifetime that corresponds to the slowest phase observed by infrared spectroscopy. Mutant sequences provide evidence of an intermediate dry molten globule state. The slowest step in the folding of this WW domain is the tight packing of the side chains in the transition from the dry molten globule intermediate to the native structure. This study demonstrates that using multiple complementary probes enhances the interpretation of protein folding dynamics.
Project description:Molecular dynamics simulations of protein folding or unfolding, unlike most in vitro experimental methods, are performed on a single molecule. The effects of neighboring molecules on the unfolding/folding pathway are largely ignored experimentally and simply not modeled computationally. Here, we present two all-atom, explicit solvent molecular dynamics simulations of 32 copies of the Engrailed homeodomain (EnHD), an ultrafast-folding and -unfolding protein for which the folding/unfolding pathway is well-characterized. These multimolecule simulations, in comparison with single-molecule simulations and experimental data, show that intermolecular interactions have little effect on the folding/unfolding pathway. EnHD unfolded by the same mechanism whether it was simulated in only water or also in the presence of other EnHD molecules. It populated the same native state, transition state, and folding intermediate in both simulation systems, and was in good agreement with experimental data available for each of the three states. Unfolding was slowed slightly by interactions with neighboring proteins, which were mostly hydrophobic in nature and ultimately caused the proteins to aggregate. Protein-water hydrogen bonds were also replaced with protein-protein hydrogen bonds, additionally contributing to aggregation. Despite the increase in protein-protein interactions, the protein aggregates formed in simulation did not do so at the total exclusion of water. These simulations support the use of single-molecule techniques to study protein unfolding and also provide insight into the types of interactions that occur as proteins aggregate at high temperature at an atomic level.
Project description:Little is known about how proteins begin to unfold. In particular, how and when water molecules penetrate into the protein interior during unfolding, thereby enabling the dissolution of specific structure, is poorly understood. The hypothesis that the native state expands initially into a dry molten globule, in which tight packing interactions are broken, but whose hydrophobic core has not expanded sufficiently to be able to absorb water molecules, has very little experimental support. Here, we report our analysis of the earliest observable events during the unfolding of single chain monellin (MNEI), a small plant protein. Far- and near-UV circular dichroism measurements of GdnHCl-induced unfolding indicate that a molten globule intermediate forms initially, before the major slow unfolding reaction commences. Steady-state fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurements show that the C-terminal end of the single helix of MNEI initially moves rapidly away from the single tryptophan residue that is close to the N-terminal end of the helix. The average end-to-end distance of the protein also expands during unfolding to the molten globule intermediate. At this time, water has yet to penetrate the protein core, according to the evidence from intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence and 8-anilino-1-naphthalenesulfonic acid fluorescence-monitored kinetic unfolding measurements. Our results therefore provide direct evidence for a dry molten globule intermediate at the initial stage of unfolding. Our results further suggest that the structural transition between the native and dry molten globule states could be an all-or-none transition, whereas further swelling of the globule appears to occur gradually.