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J Phys Chem B. 2007 Aug 2;111(30):9069-77. Epub 2007 Jul 4.

Nanoscale dewetting transition in protein complex folding.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.

Abstract

In a previous study, a surprising drying transition was observed to take place inside the nanoscale hydrophobic channel in the tetramer of the protein melittin. The goal of this paper is to determine if there are other protein complexes capable of displaying a dewetting transition during their final stage of folding. We searched the entire protein data bank (PDB) for all possible candidates, including protein tetramers, dimers, and two-domain proteins, and then performed the molecular dynamics (MD) simulations on the top candidates identified by a simple hydrophobic scoring function based on aligned hydrophobic surface areas. Our large scale MD simulations found several more proteins, including three tetramers, six dimers, and two two-domain proteins, which display a nanoscale dewetting transition in their final stage of folding. Even though the scoring function alone is not sufficient (i.e., a high score is necessary but not sufficient) in identifying the dewetting candidates, it does provide useful insights into the features of complex interfaces needed for dewetting. All top candidates have two features in common: (1) large aligned (matched) hydrophobic areas between two corresponding surfaces, and (2) large connected hydrophobic areas on the same surface. We have also studied the effect on dewetting of different water models and different treatments of the long-range electrostatic interactions (cutoff vs PME), and found the dewetting phenomena is fairly robust. This work presents a few proteins other than melittin tetramer for further experimental studies of the role of dewetting in the end stages of protein folding.

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