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J Mol Biol. 2004 Dec 3;344(4):1089-107.

Non-linear effects of temperature and urea on the thermodynamics and kinetics of folding and unfolding of hisactophilin.

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Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, ESC 326, Waterloo, Ont., N2L 3G1, Canada.


Extensive measurements and analysis of thermodynamic stability and kinetics of urea-induced unfolding and folding of hisactophilin are reported for 5-50 degrees C, at pH 6.7. Under these conditions hisactophilin has moderate thermodynamic stability, and equilibrium and kinetic data are well fit by a two-state transition between the native and the denatured states. Equilibrium and kinetic m values decrease with increasing temperature, and decrease with increasing denaturant concentration. The betaF values at different temperatures and urea concentrations are quite constant, however, at about 0.7. This suggests that the transition state for hisactophilin unfolding is native-like and changes little with changing solution conditions, consistent with a narrow free energy profile for the transition state. The activation enthalpy and entropy of unfolding are unusually low for hisactophilin, as is also the case for the corresponding equilibrium parameters. Conventional Arrhenius and Eyring plots for both folding and unfolding are markedly non-linear, but these plots become linear for constant DeltaG/T contours. The Gibbs free energy changes for structural changes in hisactophilin have a non-linear denaturant dependence that is comparable to non-linearities observed for many other proteins. These non-linearities can be fit for many proteins using a variation of the Tanford model, incorporating empirical quadratic denaturant dependencies for Gibbs free energies of transfer of amino acid constituents from water to urea, and changes in fractional solvent accessible surface area of protein constituents based on the known protein structures. Noteworthy exceptions that are not well fit include amyloidogenic proteins and large proteins, which may form intermediates. The model is easily implemented and should be widely applicable to analysis of urea-induced structural transitions in proteins.

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