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Biophys Chem. 1997 Feb 28;64(1-3):69-79.

Structure-based statistical thermodynamic analysis of T4 lysozyme mutants: structural mapping of cooperative interactions.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


The recent development of a structural parameterization of the energetics of protein folding has permitted the incorporation of the functions that describe the enthalpy, entropy and heat capacity changes, i.e. the individual components of the Gibbs energy, into a statistical thermodynamic formalism that describes the distribution of conformational states under equilibrium conditions. The goal of this approach is to construct with the computer a large ensemble of conformational states, and then to derive the most probable population distribution, i.e. the distribution of states that best accounts for a wide array of experimental observables. This analysis has been applied to four different mutants of T4 lysozyme (S44A, S44G, V131A, V131G). It is shown that the structural parameterization predicts well the stability of the protein and the effects of the mutations. The entire set of folding constants per residue has been calculated for the four mutants. In all cases, the effect of the mutations propagates beyond the mutation site itself through sequence and three-dimensional space. This phenomenon occurs despite the fact that the mutations are at solvent-exposed locations and do not directly affect other interactions in the protein. These results suggest that single amino acid mutations at solvent-exposed locations, or other locations that cause a minimal perturbation, can be used to identify the extent of cooperative interactions. The magnitude and extent of these effects and the accuracy of the algorithm can be tested by means of NMR-detected hydrogen exchange.

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