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J Mol Biol. 2004 Oct 29;343(4):1111-23.

Comparison of the transition states for folding of two Ig-like proteins from different superfamilies.

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Department of Chemistry, MRC Centre for Protein Engineering, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW, UK.


In the "fold approach" proteins with a similar fold but different sequences are compared in order to investigate the relationship between native state structure and folding behaviour. Here we compare the properties of the transition states for folding of TI I27, the 27th immunoglobulin domain from human cardiac titin, and that of TNfn3, the third fibronectin type III domain from human tenascin. Experimental phi-values were used as restraints in molecular dynamics simulations to determine the structures that make up the transition state ensembles (TSEs) for folding of the two proteins. The restrained simulations that we present allow a detailed structural comparison of the two TSEs to be made. Further calculations show explicitly that for both proteins the formation of the interactions involving the residues in the folding nucleus is sufficient for the establishment of the topology of the Ig-like fold. We found that, although the folding nuclei of the two proteins are similar, the packing of the folding nucleus of TI I27 is much tighter than that of TNfn3, reflecting the higher experimental phi-values and beta(T) (Tanford Beta) of TI I27. These results suggest that the folding nucleus can be significantly deformed to accommodate extensive sequence variation while conserving the same folding mechanism.

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