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Proteins. 2006 Jan 1;62(1):46-63.

Folding pathway dependence on energetic frustration and interaction heterogeneity for a three-dimensional hydrophobic protein model.

Author information

1
Departamento de Biologia Celular, Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil.

Abstract

Monte Carlo simulations of a hydrophobic protein model of 40 monomers in the cubic lattice are used to explore the effect of energetic frustration and interaction heterogeneity on its folding pathway. The folding pathway is described by the dependence of relevant conformational averages on an appropriate reaction coordinate, pfold, defined as the probability for a given conformation to reach the native structure before unfolding. We compare the energetically frustrated and heterogeneous hydrophobic potential, according to which individual monomers have a higher or lower tendency to form contacts unspecifically depending on their hydrophobicities, to an unfrustrated homogeneous Go-type potential with uniformly attractive native interactions and neutral non-native interactions (called Go1 in this study), and to an unfrustrated heterogeneous potential with neutral non-native interactions and native interactions having the same energy as the hydrophobic potential (called Go2 in this study). Folding kinetics are slowed down dramatically when energetic frustration increases, as expected and previously observed in a two-dimensional model. Contrary to our previous results in two dimensions, however, it appears that the folding pathway and transition state ensemble can be significantly dependent on the energy function used to stabilize the native structure. The sequence of events along the reaction coordinate, or the order along this coordinate in which different regions of the native conformation become structured, turns out to be similar for the hydrophobic and Go2 potentials, but with analogous events tending to occur at lower pfold values in the first case. In particular, the transition state obtained from the ensemble around pfold = 0.5 is more structured for the hydrophobic potential. For Go1, not only the transition state ensemble but the order of events itself is modified, suggesting that interaction heterogeneity, in addition to energetic frustration, can have significant effects on the folding mechanism, most likely by modifying the probability of different contacts in the unfolded state, the starting point for the folding reaction. Although based on a simple model, these results provide interesting insight into how sequence-dependent switching between folding pathways might occur in real proteins.

PMID:
16292745
DOI:
10.1002/prot.20711
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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