A hypothesis to reconcile the physical and chemical unfolding of proteins.
ABSTRACT: High pressure (HP) or urea is commonly used to disturb folding species. Pressure favors the reversible unfolding of proteins by causing changes in the volumetric properties of the protein-solvent system. However, no mechanistic model has fully elucidated the effects of urea on structure unfolding, even though protein-urea interactions are considered to be crucial. Here, we provide NMR spectroscopy and 3D reconstructions from X-ray scattering to develop the "push-and-pull" hypothesis, which helps to explain the initial mechanism of chemical unfolding in light of the physical events triggered by HP. In studying MpNep2 from Moniliophthora perniciosa, we tracked two cooperative units using HP-NMR as MpNep2 moved uphill in the energy landscape; this process contrasts with the overall structural unfolding that occurs upon reaching a threshold concentration of urea. At subdenaturing concentrations of urea, we were able to trap a state in which urea is preferentially bound to the protein (as determined by NMR intensities and chemical shifts); this state is still folded and not additionally exposed to solvent [fluorescence and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS)]. This state has a higher susceptibility to pressure denaturation (lower p1/2 and larger ?Vu); thus, urea and HP share concomitant effects of urea binding and pulling and water-inducing pushing, respectively. These observations explain the differences between the molecular mechanisms that control the physical and chemical unfolding of proteins, thus opening up new possibilities for the study of protein folding and providing an interpretation of the nature of cooperativity in the folding and unfolding processes.
Project description:The effect of introducing internal cavities on protein native structure and global stability has been well documented, but the consequences of these packing defects on folding free-energy landscapes have received less attention. We investigated the effects of cavity creation on the folding landscape of the leucine-rich repeat protein pp32 by high-pressure (HP) and urea-dependent NMR and high-pressure small-angle X-ray scattering (HPSAXS). Despite a modest global energetic perturbation, cavity creation in the N-terminal capping motif (N-cap) resulted in very strong deviation from two-state unfolding behavior. In contrast, introduction of a cavity in the most stable, C-terminal half of pp32 led to highly concerted unfolding, presumably because the decrease in stability by the mutations attenuated the N- to C-terminal stability gradient present in WT pp32. Interestingly, enlarging the central cavity of the protein led to the population under pressure of a distinct intermediate in which the N-cap and repeats 1-4 were nearly completely unfolded, while the fifth repeat and the C-terminal capping motif remained fully folded. Thus, despite modest effects on global stability, introducing internal cavities can have starkly distinct repercussions on the conformational landscape of a protein, depending on their structural and energetic context.
Project description:The volumetric properties of proteins yield information about the changes in packing and hydration between various states along the folding reaction coordinate and are also intimately linked to the energetics and dynamics of these conformations. These volumetric characteristics can be accessed via pressure perturbation methods. In this work, we report high-pressure unfolding studies of the ankyrin domain of the Notch receptor (Nank1-7) using fluorescence, small-angle x-ray scattering, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Both equilibrium and pressure-jump kinetic fluorescence experiments were consistent with a simple two-state folding/unfolding transition under pressure, with a rather small volume change for unfolding compared to proteins of similar molecular weight. High-pressure fluorescence, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and small-angle x-ray scattering measurements revealed that increasing urea over a very small range leads to a more expanded pressure unfolded state with a significant decrease in helical content. These observations underscore the conformational diversity of the unfolded-state basin. The temperature dependence of pressure-jump fluorescence relaxation measurements demonstrated that at low temperatures, the folding transition state ensemble (TSE) lies close in volume to the folded state, consistent with significant dehydration at the barrier. In contrast, the thermal expansivity of the TSE was found to be equivalent to that of the unfolded state, indicating that the interactions that constrain the folded-state thermal expansivity have not been established at the folding barrier. This behavior reveals a high degree of plasticity of the TSE of Nank1-7.
Project description:Many proteins fold in apparent two-state behavior, as partially folded intermediates only transiently accumulate and easily escape detection. Besides a native form and a mainly unfolded form, we captured a partially unfolded form of an acyl carrier protein from Micromonospora echinospora (meACP) in the folding/unfolding equilibrium using chemical exchange saturation transfer NMR experiments. The C-terminal region of the partially unfolded form is mainly folded and the N-terminal is unfolded. Furthermore, to understand how the folding process of meACP is influenced by solvent environments, we compared the folding dynamics of meACP in D2O, H2O and low concentration of urea. As the environment becomes more denaturing from D2O to H2O and then to urea, the unfolded state becomes increasingly populated, and the folding rate decreases. Adding a small amount of urea, which does not change solvent viscosity, has little effects on the unfolding rates, while changing H2O to D2O reduces the unfolding rates possibly due to the increase of solvent viscosity. The quantified solvent effects on the protein folding Gibbs energy and activation energy suggest that the transition state of folding may have a similar structure to the native state of the protein.
Project description:We investigated the volumetric and kinetic profile of the conformational landscape of a poly dA loop DNA hairpin (Hp) in the presence of salts, osmolytes and crowding media, mimicking the intracellular milieu, using single-molecule FRET methodology. Pressure modulation was applied to explore the volumetric and hydrational characteristics of the free-energy landscape of the DNA Hp, but also because pressure is a stress factor many organisms have to cope with, e.g. in the deep sea where pressures even up to the kbar level are encountered. Urea and pressure synergistically destabilize the closed conformation of the DNA Hp due to a lower molar partial volume in the unfolded state. Conversely, multivalent salts, trimethylamine-N-oxide and Ficoll strongly populate the closed state and counteract deteriorating effects of pressure. Complementary smFRET measurements under immobilized conditions at ambient pressure allowed us to dissect the equilibrium data in terms of folding and unfolding rate constants of the conformational transitions, leading to a deeper understanding of the stabilization mechanisms of the cosolutes. Our results show that the free-energy landscape of the DNA Hp is a rugged one, which is markedly affected by the ionic strength of the solution, by preferential interaction and exclusion of cosolvents as well as by pressure.
Project description:Noncovalent interactions are key determinants in both chemical and biological processes. Among such processes, the hydrophobic interactions play an eminent role in folding of proteins, nucleic acids, formation of membranes, protein-ligand recognition, etc.. Though this interaction is mediated through the aqueous solvent, the stability of the above biomolecules can be highly sensitive to any small external perturbations, such as temperature, pressure, pH, or even cosolvent additives, like, urea-a highly soluble small organic molecule utilized by various living organisms to regulate osmotic pressure. A plethora of detailed studies exist covering both experimental and theoretical regimes, to understand how urea modulates the stability of biological macromolecules. While experimentalists have been primarily focusing on the thermodynamic and kinetic aspects, theoretical modeling predominantly involves mechanistic information at the molecular level, calculating atomistic details applying the force field approach to the high level electronic details using the quantum mechanical methods. The review focuses mainly on examples with biological relevance, such as (1) urea-assisted protein unfolding, (2) urea-assisted RNA unfolding, (3) urea lesion interaction within damaged DNA, (4) urea conduction through membrane proteins, and (5) protein-ligand interactions those explicitly address the vitality of hydrophobic interactions involving exclusively the urea-aromatic moiety.
Project description:The electrospinning of highly concentrated solutions of cyclodextrin (CD) leads to bead-free nanofibers without the need of a polymeric carrier. The occurrence of numerous hydrogen bonds among CD molecules is the main driving force for their electrospinning, and hence, additives with hydrogen-bonding potential can disturb the aggregation of CD molecules and affect their electrospinning. In this study, we systematically investigated the influence of five different hydrogen-bonding additives, i.e., methylamine (MA), ethylenediamine (ED), urea, 2,2,2-trifluoroethanol (TFE), and 1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP), on the solution behavior of hydroxypropyl-?-CD (HP-?-CD) by rheology, conductivity, and NMR analyses, and the morphology of the electrospun HP-?-CD nanofibers by scanning electron microscopy. The <sup>1</sup>H NMR chemical shifts of the HP-?-CD protons in D<sub>2</sub>O were observed with the incorporation of hydrogen-bonding molecules due to the occurrence of intermolecular associations between HP-?-CD and additives. Dynamic light scattering measurements revealed a clear decrease in the aggregate size with the introduction of additives. Unlike other additives, which showed a general decreasing trend in viscosity with increasing additive content, the addition of MA led to a significant increase in the viscosity with increasing concentration and gave rise to HP-?-CD nanofibers at lower concentrations. The addition of low concentrations of ED, urea, TFE, and HFIP led to thinner nanofibers due to the lower viscosity of the respective solutions. Increasing additive content deteriorated the electrospinnability of HP-?-CD solutions, resulting in beaded fibers. A systematic relationship was found between the solution viscosity and morphology of the respective electrospun fibers. Overall, this study, for the first time, reports the influence of hydrogen bonding on the polymer-free electrospinning of CD molecules and shows a correlation between solution properties and morphology of their electrospun nanofibers.
Project description:A complete description of the pathways and mechanisms of protein folding requires a detailed structural and energetic characterization of the conformational ensemble along the entire folding reaction coordinate. Simulations can provide this level of insight for small proteins. In contrast, with the exception of hydrogen exchange, which does not monitor folding directly, experimental studies of protein folding have not yielded such structural and energetic detail. NMR can provide residue specific atomic level structural information, but its implementation in protein folding studies using chemical or temperature perturbation is problematic. Here we present a highly detailed structural and energetic map of the entire folding landscape of the leucine-rich repeat protein, pp32 (Anp32), obtained by combining pressure-dependent site-specific 1H-15N HSQC data with coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations. The results obtained using this equilibrium approach demonstrate that the main barrier to folding of pp32 is quite broad and lies near the unfolded state, with structure apparent only in the C-terminal region. Significant deviation from two-state unfolding under pressure reveals an intermediate on the folded side of the main barrier in which the N-terminal region is disordered. A nonlinear temperature dependence of the population of this intermediate suggests a large heat capacity change associated with its formation. The combination of pressure, which favors the population of folding intermediates relative to chemical denaturants; NMR, which allows their observation; and constrained structure-based simulations yield unparalleled insight into protein folding mechanisms.
Project description:The folding kinetics of bovine acyl-CoA binding protein was studied by 15N relaxation dispersion measurements under equilibrium conditions. Relaxation dispersion profiles were measured at several concentrations of guanidine hydrochloride (GuHCl). The unfolding rate constant (k(u)) was determined under conditions favoring folding, for which the folding rate constant (k(f)) dominates the relaxation in stopped-flow kinetic measurements. Conversely, k(f) was determined under conditions favoring unfolding, for which k(u) dominates stopped-flow data. The rates determined by NMR therefore complement those from stopped-flow kinetics and define an "inverted chevron" plot. The combination of NMR relaxation and stopped-flow kinetic measurements allowed determination of k(f) and k(u) in the range from 0.48 M GuHCl to 1.28 M GuHCl. Individually, the stopped-flow and NMR data fit two-state models for folding. However, although the values of k(f) determined by the two methods agree, the values of k(u) do not. As a result, a combined analysis of all data does not comply with a two-state model but indicates that an unfolding intermediate exists on the native side of the dominant energy barrier. The denaturant and temperature dependencies of the chemical shifts and k(u) indicate that the intermediate state is structurally similar to the native state. Equilibrium unfolding monitored by optical spectroscopy corroborate these conclusions. The temperature dependence of the chemical shifts identifies regions of the protein that are selectively destabilized in the intermediate. These results illustrate the power of combining stopped-flow kinetics and NMR spectroscopy to analyze protein folding.
Project description:The I-domain is an insertion domain of the bacteriophage P22 coat protein that drives rapid folding and accounts for over half of the stability of the full-length protein. We sought to determine the role of hydrogen bonds (H-bonds) in the unfolding of the I-domain by examining (3)JNC' couplings transmitted through H-bonds, the temperature and urea-concentration dependence of (1)HN and (15)N chemical shifts, and native-state hydrogen exchange at urea concentrations where the domain is predominantly folded. The native-state hydrogen-exchange data suggest that the six-stranded ?-barrel core of the I-domain is more stable against unfolding than a smaller subdomain comprised of a short ?-helix and three-stranded ?-sheet. H-bonds, separately determined from solvent protection and (3)JNC' H-bond couplings, are identified with an accuracy of 90% by (1)HN temperature coefficients. The accuracy is improved to 95% when (15)N temperature coefficients are also included. In contrast, the urea dependence of (1)HN and (15)N chemical shifts is unrelated to H-bonding. The protein segments with the largest chemical-shift changes in the presence of urea show curved or sigmoidal titration curves suggestive of direct urea binding. Nuclear Overhauser effects to urea for these segments are also consistent with specific urea-binding sites in the I-domain. Taken together, the results support a mechanism of urea unfolding in which denaturant binds to distinct sites in the I-domain. Disordered segments bind urea more readily than regions in stable secondary structure. The locations of the putative urea-binding sites correlate with the lower stability of the structure against solvent exchange, suggesting that partial unfolding of the structure is related to urea accessibility.
Project description:Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme with a typical alpha/beta hydrolase fold. The conformational stability of the human placental alkaline phosphatase was examined with the chemical denaturant urea. The red shifts of fluorescence spectra show a complex unfolding process involving multiple equilibrium intermediates indicating differential stability of the subdomains of the enzyme. None of these unfolding intermediates were observed in the presence of 83 mM NaCl, indicating the importance of ionic interactions in the stabilization of the unfolding intermediates. Guanidinium chloride, on the other hand, could stabilize one of the unfolding intermediates, which is not a salt effect. Some of the unfolding intermediates were also observed in circular dichroism spectroscopy, which clearly indicates steady loss of helical structure during unfolding, but very little change was observed for the beta strand content until the late stage of the unfolding process. The enzyme does not lose its phosphate-binding ability after substantial tertiary structure changes, suggesting that the substrate-binding region is more resistant to chemical denaturant than the other structural domains. Global analysis of the fluorescence spectral change demonstrated the following folding-unfolding process of the enzyme: N <--> I(1) <--> I(2) <--> I(3) <--> I(4) <--> I(5) <--> D. These discrete intermediates are stable at urea concentrations of 2.6, 4.1, 4.7, 5.5, 6.6, and 7.7 M, respectively. These intermediates are further characterized by acrylamide and/or potassium iodide quenching of the intrinsic fluorescence of the enzyme and by the hydrophobic probes, 1-anilinonaphthalene-8-sulfonic acid and 4,4'-dianilino-1,1'-binaphthyl-5,5'-disulfonic acid. The stepwise unfolding process was interpreted by the folding energy landscape in terms of the unique structure of the enzyme. The rigid central beta-strand domain is surrounded by the peripheral alpha-helical and coil structures, which are marginally stable toward a chemical denaturant.