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Proteins. 2005 May 1;59(2):266-74.

Hydrophobic tendency of polar group hydration as a major force in type I antifreeze protein recognition.

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E.R. Johnson Research Foundation, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6049, USA.


The random network model of water quantitatively describes the different hydration heat capacities of polar and apolar solutes in terms of distortions of the water-water hydrogen bonding angle in the first hydration shell (Gallagher and Sharp, JACS 2003;125:9853). The distribution of this angle in pure water is bimodal, with a low-angle population and high-angle population. Polar solutes increase the high-angle population while apolar solutes increase the low-angle population. The ratio of the two populations quantifies the hydrophobicity of the solute and provides a sensitive measure of water structural distortions. This method of analysis is applied to study hydration of type I thermal hysteresis protein (THP) from winter flounder and three quadruple mutants of four threonine residues at positions 2, 13, 24, and 35. Wild-type and two mutants (VVVV and AAAA) have antifreeze (thermal hysteresis) activity, while the other mutant (SSSS) has no activity. The analysis reveals significant differences in the hydration structure of the ice-binding site. For the SSSS mutant, polar groups have a typical polar-like hydration, that is, more high-angle H-bonds than bulk water. For the wild-type and active mutants, polar groups have unusual, very apolar-like hydration, that is, more low-angle H-bonds than bulk water. This pattern of hydration was seen previously in the structurally distinct type III THPs (Yang & Sharp Biophys Chem 2004;109:137), suggesting for the first time a general mechanism for different THP classes. The specific shape, residue size, and clustering of both polar and apoler groups are essential for an active ice binding surface.

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