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Biomacromolecules. 2001 Summer;2(2):511-7.

The hydrophobins HFBI and HFBII from Trichoderma reesei showing efficient interactions with nonionic surfactants in aqueous two-phase systems.

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  • 1VTT Biotechnology, P.O.Box 1500, FIN-02044 VTT, Finland; and Institute für Enzymtechnologie der Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Forschungszentrum Jülich, D-52426 Jülich, Germany.


Fungal hydrophobins are a group of surface active, self-assembling proteins. The filamentous fungus Trichoderma reesei produces two (class II) hydrophobins, HFBI and HFBII. We have studied how these water-soluble hydrophobins behave in two-phase systems using a series of nonionic surfactants with different characteristics. It was found that both hydrophobins, but especially HFBI, had a very high affinity for the surfactants. The highest partitioning coefficient, over 2500, was observed for HFBI with C(11)EO(2). Reducing the disulfides in the protein resulted in a complete loss of affinity for the surfactant, which demonstrates that the interaction is dependent on the disulfide-stabilized conformation. The hydrophobins could be efficiently extracted back from the surfactant phase by addition of alcohols such as isobutanol. Effects of the type of surfactant, temperature, pH, and ionic strength were investigated. The use of this method for purifying the proteins from crude fungal culture supernatants is demonstrated and implications of the protein-polymer interaction are discussed.

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