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Biophys Chem. 2011 Nov;159(1):152-61. doi: 10.1016/j.bpc.2011.06.004. Epub 2011 Jun 22.

Deletion of internal structured repeats increases the stability of a leucine-rich repeat protein, YopM.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Mapping the stability distributions of proteins in their native folded states provides a critical link between structure, thermodynamics, and function. Linear repeat proteins have proven more amenable to this kind of mapping than globular proteins. C-terminal deletion studies of YopM, a large, linear leucine-rich repeat (LRR) protein, show that stability is distributed quite heterogeneously, yet a high level of cooperativity is maintained [1]. Key components of this distribution are three interfaces that strongly stabilize adjacent sequences, thereby maintaining structural integrity and promoting cooperativity. To better understand the distribution of interaction energy around these critical interfaces, we studied internal (rather than terminal) deletions of three LRRs in this region, including one of these stabilizing interfaces. Contrary to our expectation that deletion of structured repeats should be destabilizing, we find that internal deletion of folded repeats can actually stabilize the native state, suggesting that these repeats are destabilizing, although paradoxically, they are folded in the native state. We identified two residues within this destabilizing segment that deviate from the consensus sequence at a position that normally forms a stacked leucine ladder in the hydrophobic core. Replacement of these nonconsensus residues with leucine is stabilizing. This stability enhancement can be reproduced in the context of nonnative interfaces, but it requires an extended hydrophobic core. Our results demonstrate that different LRRs vary widely in their contribution to stability, and that this variation is context-dependent. These two factors are likely to determine the types of rearrangements that lead to folded, functional proteins, and in turn, are likely to restrict the pathways available for the evolution of linear repeat proteins.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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