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Protein Sci. 2001 Jun;10(6):1206-15.

The effect of net charge on the solubility, activity, and stability of ribonuclease Sa.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry and Genetics, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA.


The net charge and isoelectric pH (pI) of a protein depend on the content of ionizable groups and their pK values. Ribonuclease Sa (RNase Sa) is an acidic protein with a pI = 3.5 that contains no Lys residues. By replacing Asp and Glu residues on the surface of RNase Sa with Lys residues, we have created a 3K variant (D1K, D17K, E41K) with a pI = 6.4 and a 5K variant (3K + D25K, E74K) with a pI = 10.2. We show that pI values estimated using pK values based on model compound data can be in error by >1 pH unit, and suggest how the estimation can be improved. For RNase Sa and the 3K and 5K variants, the solubility, activity, and stability have been measured as a function of pH. We find that the pH of minimum solubility varies with the pI of the protein, but that the pH of maximum activity and the pH of maximum stability do not.

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