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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Jan 31;1594(1):84-99.

Interaction of bovine (BSA) and human (HSA) serum albumins with ionic surfactants: spectroscopy and modelling.

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Departamento de Química e Física Molecular, Instituto de Química de São Carlos, Universidade de São Paulo, C.P. 780, CEP 13560-970, São Carlos, SP, Brazil.


The binding of several different categories of small molecules to bovine (BSA) and human (HSA) serum albumins has been studied for many years through different spectroscopic techniques to elucidate details of the protein structure and binding mechanism. In this work we present the results of the study of the interactions of BSA and HSA with the anionic sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), cationic cethyltrimethylammonium chloride (CTAC) and zwitterionic N-hexadecyl-N,N-dimethyl-3-ammonium-1-propanesulfonate (HPS) monitored by fluorescence spectroscopy of the intrinsic tryptophans at pH 5.0. Similarly to pH 7.0 and 9.0, at low concentrations, the interaction of BSA with these surfactants shows a quenching of fluorescence with Stern-Volmer quenching constants of (1.1+/-0.1)x10(4) M(-1), (3.2+/-0.1)x10(3) M(-1) and (2.1+/-0.1)x10(3) M(-1) for SDS, HPS and CTAC, respectively, which are associated to the 'effective' association constants to the protein. On the interaction of these surfactants with HSA, an opposite effect was observed as compared to BSA, i.e., an enhancement of fluorescence takes place. For both proteins, at low surfactant concentrations, a positive cooperativity was observed and the Hill plot model was used to estimate the number of surfactant binding sites, as well as the association constants of the surfactants to the proteins. It is worthy of notice that the binding constants for the surfactants at pH 5.0 are lower as compared to pH 7.0 and 9.0. This is probably due to fact that the protein at this acid pH is quite compact reducing the accessibility of the surfactants to the hydrophobic cavities in the binding sites. The interaction of myristic acid with both proteins shows a similar fluorescence behaviour, suggesting that the mechanism of the interaction is the same. Recently published crystallographic studies of HSA-myristate complex were used to perform a modelling study with the aim to explain the fluorescence results. The crystallographic structure reveals that a total of five myristic acid molecules are asymmetrically bound in the macromolecule. Three of these sites correspond to higher affinity ones and correlate with high association constants described in the literature. Our models for BSA and HSA with bound SDS suggest that the surfactant could be bound at the same sites as those reported in the crystal structure for the fatty acid. The differences in tryptophan vicinity upon surfactant binding are explored in the models in order to explain the observed spectroscopic changes. For BSA the quenching is due to a direct contact of a surfactant molecule with the indole of W131 residue. It is clear that the binding site in BSA which is very close, in contact with tryptophan W131, corresponds to a lower affinity site, explaining the lower binding constants obtained from fluorescence studies. In the case of HSA the enhancement of fluorescence is due to the removal of static quenching of W214 residue in the intact protein caused by nearby residues in the vicinity of this tryptophan.

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