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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Mar 2;107(9):4099-104. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0911904107. Epub 2010 Feb 1.

The transition state for folding of an outer membrane protein.

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  • 1Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, Institute of Membrane and Systems Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom.


Inspired by the seminal work of Anfinsen, investigations of the folding of small water-soluble proteins have culminated in detailed insights into how these molecules attain and stabilize their native folds. In contrast, despite their overwhelming importance in biology, progress in understanding the folding and stability of membrane proteins remains relatively limited. Here we use mutational analysis to describe the transition state involved in the reversible folding of the beta-barrel membrane protein PhoPQ-activated gene P (PagP) from a highly disordered state in 10 M urea to a native protein embedded in a lipid bilayer. Analysis of the equilibrium stability and unfolding kinetics of 19 variants that span all eight beta-strands of this 163-residue protein revealed that the transition-state structure is a highly polarized, partly formed beta-barrel. The results provide unique and detailed insights into the transition-state structure for beta-barrel membrane protein folding into a lipid bilayer and are consistent with a model for outer membrane protein folding via a tilted insertion mechanism.

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