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Biochemistry. 1992 May 26;31(20):4749-56.

Detection and characterization of an early folding intermediate of T4 lysozyme using pulsed hydrogen exchange and two-dimensional NMR.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene 97403-1229.


Two-dimensional 1H-15N NMR techniques combined with pulsed hydrogen-deuterium exchange have been used to characterize the folding pathway of T4 lysozyme. In the unfolded state, there is little differential protection of the various amides from hydrogen exchange. In the native folded structure, 84 amides of the 164 residues are sufficiently spectrally resolved and protected from solvent exchange to serve as probes of the folding pathway. These probes are located in both the N-terminal and C-terminal domains of the native folded structure of the protein. The studies described here show that at least one intermediate is formed early during refolding at low denaturant concentrations. This intermediate (or intermediates) forms very rapidly (within the 10-ms temporal resolution of our mixing device) under the conditions used and is completed at least 10 times faster than the overall folding event. The intermediate(s) protect(s) from exchange a subset of amides in the N-terminal and C-terminal regions of the protein. In the final folded states these protected regions correspond to two alpha-helices and a beta-sheet region. These amides are protected from exchange by factors between 20 and 200 as compared to the fully unfolded protein. Protection of this magnitude is consistent with the formation of somewhat exposed secondary structure in these regions and could represent a "molten globule"-like or a "framework"-like structure for the intermediate(s) in which specific parts of the sequence form isolated secondary structures that are not stabilized by extensive tertiary interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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