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Biopolymers. 2007;88(2):157-63.

From the test tube to the cell: exploring the folding and aggregation of a beta-clam protein.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Martinsreid, Germany.

Abstract

A crucial challenge in present biomedical research is the elucidation of how fundamental processes like protein folding and aggregation occur in the complex environment of the cell. Many new physico-chemical factors like crowding and confinement must be considered, and immense technical hurdles must be overcome in order to explore these processes in vivo. Understanding protein misfolding and aggregation diseases and developing therapeutic strategies to these diseases demand that we gain mechanistic insight into behaviors and misbehaviors of proteins as they fold in vivo. We have developed a fluorescence approach using FlAsH labeling to study the thermodynamics of folding of a model beta-rich protein, cellular retinoic acid binding protein (CRABP) in Escherichia coli cells. The labeling approach has also enabled us to follow aggregation of a modified version of CRABP and chimeras between CRABP and huntingtin exon 1 with its glutamine repeat tract. In this article, we review our recent results using FlAsH labeling to study in-vivo folding and present new observations that hint at fundamental differences between the thermodynamics and kinetics of protein folding in vivo and in vitro.

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