Microsecond protein folding through a compact transition state.
Dynamic NMR methods have been employed to measure the folding and unfolding rate constants of two extremely fast-folding proteins. lambda 6-85, a truncated, monomeric form of the N-terminal domain of lambda repressor, refolds with a lifetime of approximately 250 microseconds. These methods have also been applied to a thermostable lambda 6-85 variant with alanine substituted for glycine residues 46 and 48 in the third helix (G46A/G48A). Both proteins exhibit linear ln (kf,u) versus [urea] plots, consistent with two-state folding for both proteins. When extrapolated to 0M urea, the data indicate that G46A/G48A folds with a lifetime of less than 20 microseconds. The slopes of the ln (kf,u) versus [urea] curves (mu and mf) indicate that the modest Gly-->Ala double mutation dramatically changes the transition state solvent accessibility. The transition state for lambda 6-85 has a fractional accessibility (mu/(mu-mf)) of 0.61, whereas the transition state for G46A/G48A is much more native-like, with a fractional accessibility of 0.16. The extraordinary change in the folding pathway that these mutations induce suggests that the intrinsic stability of helix 3 is an important determinant of the folding mechanism.
Burton, RE; Huang, GS; Daugherty, MA; Fullbright, PW; Oas, TG
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