The molten globule state is unusually deformable under mechanical force.
ABSTRACT: Recently, the role of force in cellular processes has become more evident, and now with advances in force spectroscopy, the response of proteins to force can be directly studied. Such studies have found that native proteins are brittle, and thus not very deformable. Here, we examine the mechanical properties of a class of intermediates referred to as the molten globule state. Using optical trap force spectroscopy, we investigated the response to force of the native and molten globule states of apomyoglobin along different pulling axes. Unlike natively folded proteins, the molten globule state of apomyoglobin is compliant (large distance to the transition state); this large compliance means that the molten globule is more deformable and the unfolding rate is more sensitive to force (the application of force or tension will have a more dramatic effect on the unfolding rate). Our studies suggest that these are general properties of molten globules and could have important implications for mechanical processes in the cell.
Project description:At present it is unclear which interactions in proteins reveal the presence of intermediate states, their stability and formation rate. In this study, we have investigated the effect of substitutions of hydrophobic amino acid residues in the hydrophobic core of protein and on its surface on a molten globule type intermediate state of apomyoglobin. It has been found that independent of their localization in protein, substitutions of hydrophobic amino acid residues do not affect the stability of the molten globule state of apomyoglobin. It has been shown also that introduction of a disulfide bond on the protein surface can stabilize the molten globule state. However in the case of apomyoglobin, stabilization of the intermediate state leads to relative destabilization of the native state of apomyoglobin. The result obtained allows us not only to conclude which mutations can have an effect on the intermediate state of the molten globule type, but also explains why the introduction of a disulfide bond (which seems to "strengthen" the protein) can result in destabilization of the protein native state of apomyoglobin.
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.
Project description:An important question in protein folding is whether molten globule states formed under equilibrium conditions are good structural models for kinetic folding intermediates. The structures of the kinetic and equilibrium intermediates in the folding of the plant globin apoleghemoglobin have been compared at high resolution by quench-flow pH-pulse labeling and interrupted hydrogen/deuterium exchange analyzed in dimethyl sulfoxide. Unlike its well studied homolog apomyoglobin, where the equilibrium and kinetic intermediates are quite similar, there are striking structural differences between the intermediates formed by apoleghemoglobin. In the kinetic intermediate, formed during the burst phase of the quench-flow experiment, protected amides and helical structure are found mainly in the regions corresponding to the G and H helices of the folded protein, and in parts of the E helix and CE loop regions, whereas in the equilibrium intermediate, amide protection and helical structure are seen in parts of the A and B helix regions, as well as in the G and H regions, and the E helix remains largely unfolded. These results suggest that the structure of the molten globule intermediate of apoleghemoglobin is more plastic than that of apomyoglobin, so that it is readily transformed depending on the solution conditions, particularly pH. Thus, in the case of apoleghemoglobin at least, the equilibrium molten globule formed under destabilizing conditions at acid pH is not a good model for the compact intermediate formed during kinetic refolding experiments. Our high-precision kinetic analysis also reveals an additional slow phase during the folding of apoleghemoglobin, which is not observed for apomyoglobin. Hydrogen exchange pulse-labeling experiments show that the slow-folding phase is associated with residues in the CE loop, which probably forms non-native structure in the intermediate that must be resolved before folding can proceed to completion.
Project description:Tear lipocalin (TL) may stabilize the lipid layer of tears through a molten globule state triggered by low pH. EPR spectroscopy with site-directed spin labeling, revealed the side chain mobility of residues on the G-strand of TL in a molten globule state; the G-strand retains beta-sheet structure. All of the side chains of G-strand residues become more loosely packed, especially residues 96-99. In contrast, the highly mobile side chain of residue 95 on the F-G loop, becomes tightly packed. ANS binding to TL in a molten globule state reestablishes tight packing around side chains that are oriented both inside and outside of the barrel. Unlike RBP and BLG; TL has no disulfide bond between G- and H-strands. It is likely that the central beta-sheet in the molten globule state of lipocalins is stabilized by its interactions with the main alpha-helix, rather than the interstrand disulfide bond.
Project description:We investigated the pathway for pressure unfolding of metmyoglobin using molecular dynamics (MD) for a range of pressures (0.1 MPa to 1.2 GPa) and a temperature of 300 K. We find that the unfolding of metmyoglobin proceeds via a two-step mechanism native --> molten globule intermediate --> unfolded, where the molten globule forms at 700 MPa. The simulation describes qualitatively the experimental behavior of metmyoglobin under pressure. We find that unfolding of the alpha-helices follows the sequence of migrating hydrogen bonds (i,i + 4) --> (i,i + 2).
Project description:Kinetic intermediates that appear early during protein folding often resemble the relatively stable molten globule intermediates formed by several proteins under mildly denaturing conditions. Molten globules have a substantial amount of secondary structure but lack virtually all tertiary side-chain packing characteristics of natively folded proteins. Due to exposed hydrophobic groups, molten globules are prone to aggregation, which can have detrimental effects on organisms. The molten globule that is observed during folding of alpha-beta parallel flavodoxin from Azotobacter vinelandii is a remarkably non-native species. This folding intermediate is helical and contains no beta-sheet and is kinetically off-pathway to the native state. It can be trapped under native-like conditions by substituting residue Phe(44) for Tyr(44). To characterize this species at the residue level, in this study, use is made of interrupted hydrogen/deuterium exchange detected by NMR spectroscopy. In the molten globule of flavodoxin, the helical region comprising residues Leu(110)-Val(125) is shown to be better protected against exchange than the other ordered parts of the folding intermediate. This helical region is better buried than the other helices, causing its context-dependent stabilization against unfolding. Residues Leu(110)-Val(125) thus form the stable core of the helical molten globule of alpha-beta parallel flavodoxin, which is almost entirely structured. Non-native docking of helices in the molten globule of flavodoxin prevents formation of the parallel beta-sheet of native flavodoxin. Hence, to produce native alpha-beta parallel protein molecules, the off-pathway species needs to unfold.
Project description:?-Cardiotoxin is a novel member of the snake venom three-finger toxin (3FTX) family. This is the first exogenous protein to antagonize ?-adrenergic receptors and thereby causing reduction in heart rates (bradycardia) when administered into animals, unlike the conventional cardiotoxins as reported earlier. 3FTXs are stable all ?-sheet peptides with 60-80 amino acid residues. Here, we describe the three-dimensional crystal structure of ?-cardiotoxin together with the identification of a molten globule intermediate in the unfolding pathway of this protein. In spite of the overall structural similarity of this protein with conventional cardiotoxins, there are notable differences observed at the loop region and in the charge distribution on the surface, which are known to be critical for cytolytic activity of cardiotoxins. The molten globule intermediate state present in the thermal unfolding pathway of ?-cardiotoxin was however not observed during the chemical denaturation of the protein. Interestingly, circular dichroism (CD) and NMR studies revealed the presence of ?-helical secondary structure in the molten globule intermediate. These results point to substantial conformational plasticity of ?-cardiotoxin, which might aid the protein in responding to the sometimes conflicting demands of structure, stability, and function during its biological lifetime.
Project description:New experimental results show that either gain or loss of close packing can be observed as a discrete step in protein folding or unfolding reactions. This finding poses a significant challenge to the conventional two-state model of protein folding. Results of interest involve dry molten globule (DMG) intermediates, an expanded form of the protein that lacks appreciable solvent. When an unfolding protein expands to the DMG state, side chains unlock and gain conformational entropy, while liquid-like van der Waals interactions persist. Four unrelated proteins are now known to form DMGs as the first step of unfolding, suggesting that such an intermediate may well be commonplace in both folding and unfolding. Data from the literature show that peptide amide protons are protected in the DMG, indicating that backbone structure is intact despite loss of side-chain close packing. Other complementary evidence shows that secondary structure formation provides a major source of compaction during folding. In our model, the major free-energy barrier separating unfolded from native states usually occurs during the transition between the unfolded state and the DMG. The absence of close packing at this barrier provides an explanation for why phi-values, derived from a Brønsted-Leffler plot, depend primarily on structure at the mutational site and not on specific side-chain interactions. The conventional two-state folding model breaks down when there are DMG intermediates, a realization that has major implications for future experimental work on the mechanism of protein folding.
Project description:A highly active, monomeric chorismate mutase, obtained by topological redesign of a dimeric helical bundle enzyme from Methanococcus jannaschii, was investigated by NMR and various other biochemical techniques, including H/D exchange. Although structural disorder is generally considered to be incompatible with efficient catalysis, the monomer, unlike its natural counterpart, unexpectedly possesses all of the characteristics of a molten globule. Global conformational ordering, observed upon binding of a transition state analog, indicates that folding can be coupled to catalysis with minimal energetic penalty. These results support the suggestion that many modern enzymes might have evolved from molten globule precursors. Insofar as their structural plasticity confers relaxed substrate specificity and/or catalytic promiscuity, molten globules may also be attractive starting points for the evolution of new catalysts in the laboratory.
Project description:Partially folded protein species transiently form during folding of most proteins. Often, these species are molten globules, which may be on- or off-pathway to the native state. Molten globules are ensembles of interconverting protein conformers that have a substantial amount of secondary structure, but lack virtually all tertiary side-chain packing characteristics of natively folded proteins. Due to solvent-exposed hydrophobic groups, molten globules are prone to aggregation, which can have detrimental effects on organisms. The molten globule observed during folding of the 179-residue apoflavodoxin from Azotobacter vinelandii is off-pathway, as it has to unfold before native protein can form. Here, we study folding of apoflavodoxin and characterize its molten globule using fluorescence spectroscopy and Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET). Apoflavodoxin is site-specifically labeled with fluorescent donor and acceptor dyes, utilizing dye-inaccessibility of Cys69 in cofactor-bound protein. Donor (i.e., Alexa Fluor 488) is covalently attached to Cys69 in all apoflavodoxin variants used. Acceptor (i.e., Alexa Fluor 568) is coupled to Cys1, Cys131 and Cys178, respectively. Our FRET data show that apoflavodoxin's molten globule forms in a non-cooperative manner and that its N-terminal 69 residues fold last. In addition, striking conformational differences between molten globule and native protein are revealed, because the inter-label distances sampled in the 111-residue C-terminal segment of the molten globule are shorter than observed for native apoflavodoxin. Thus, FRET sheds light on the off-pathway nature of the molten globule during folding of an ?-? parallel protein.