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J Mol Biol. 2005 Jun 24;349(5):1072-86.

Conformational flexibility of alpha-lactalbumin related to its membrane binding capacity.

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1
Department of Biomedicine, University of Bergen, Jonas Lies vei 91, 5009 Bergen, Norway.

Abstract

Different folding states of the small, globular milk protein bovine alpha-lactalbumin (BLA) induced by the anionic surfactant sodium dodecylsulphate (SDS) have been examined by fluorescence spectroscopy, CD and NMR. The solution structure of the protein in the absence of SDS was also determined, indicating fluidity even under native conditions. BLA is partly denatured to a molten globule (MG)-like state by micromolar concentrations of SDS, and the transitions from native to MG-like state are dependent on pH, the protein being more sensitive to the surfactant at pH 6.5. As indicated by measurements of the intrinsic emission fluorescence, the tertiary structure disappears at lower concentrations of SDS than most of the secondary structure, as estimated from CD data. The MG-like state induced by low concentrations of SDS is not observable by NMR, and is probably fluctuating and/or aggregating. At higher concentrations of SDS above the critic concentration of micelles, an NMR-observable state reappears. This micelle-associated conformer was partially assigned, and found to bear strong resemblance to the acid-tri-fluoroethanol state, retaining weakened versions of the A and C helix of native BLA. We discuss the results in terms of the inherent flexibility of the protein, and its ability to form multiple folding states and to bind to membranes. Also, we propose that proteins with stable MG-like conformers can have these states stabilized by low levels of compounds with surfactant properties in vivo.

PMID:
15913646
DOI:
10.1016/j.jmb.2005.04.020
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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