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Nat Struct Biol. 2000 May;7(5):380-3.

Two exposed amino acid residues confer thermostability on a cold shock protein.

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Biochemisches Laboratorium, Universit├Ąt Bayreuth, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany.


Thermophilic organisms produce proteins of exceptional stability. To understand protein thermostability at the molecular level we studied a pair of cold shock proteins, one of mesophilic and one of thermophilic origin, by systematic mutagenesis. Although the two proteins differ in sequence at 12 positions, two surface-exposed residues are responsible for the increase in stability of the thermophilic protein (by 15.8 kJ mol-1 at 70 degrees C). 11.5 kJ mol-1 originate from a predominantly electrostatic contribution of Arg 3 and 5.2 kJ mol-1 from hydrophobic interactions of Leu 66 at the carboxy terminus. The mesophilic protein could be converted to a highly thermostable form by changing the Glu residues at positions 3 and 66 to Arg and Leu, respectively. The variation of surface residues may thus provide a simple and powerful approach for increasing the thermostability of a protein.

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