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J Mol Biol. 2002 Oct 18;323(2):363-75.

Thermodynamic and kinetic exploration of the energy landscape of Borrelia burgdorferi OspA by native-state hydrogen exchange.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


We report a native-state hydrogen-exchange (HX) method to simultaneously obtain both thermodynamic and kinetic information on the formation of multiple excited states in a folding energy landscape. Our method exploits the inherent dispersion and pH dependence of the intrinsic HX rates to cover both the EX2 (thermodynamic) and EX1 (kinetic) regimes. At each concentration of denaturant, HX measurements are performed over a range of pH values. Using this strategy, we dissected Borrelia burgdorferi OspA, a predominantly beta-sheet protein containing a unique single-layer beta-sheet, into five cooperative units and postulated excited states predominantly responsible for HX. More importantly, we determined the interconversion rates between these excited states and the native state. The use of both thermodynamic and kinetic information from native-state HX enabled us to construct a folding landscape of this 28kDa protein, including local minima and maxima, and to discriminate on-pathway and off-pathway intermediates. This method, which we term EX2/EX1 HX, should be a powerful tool for characterizing the complex folding mechanisms exhibited by the majority of proteins.

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