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Proteins. 2008 Apr;71(1):35-44.

Hydrophobic interactions and ionic networks play an important role in thermal stability and denaturation mechanism of the porcine odorant-binding protein.

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Institute of Cytology, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia.


Despite the fact that the porcine odorant-binding protein (pOBP) possesses a single tryptophan residue (Trp 16) that is characterized by a high density microenvironment (80 atoms in a sphere with radius 7 A) with only one polar group (Lys 120) and three bound water molecules, pOBP displayed a red shifted fluorescence emission spectrum (lambda(max) = 340 nm). The protein unfolding in 5M GdnHCl was accompanied by the red shift of the fluorescence emission spectrum (lambda(max) = 353 nm), by the increase of fluorescence quantum yield, and by the decrease of lifetime of the excited state (from 4.25 ns in native state to 3.15 ns in the presence of 5M GdnHCl). Taken together these data indicate the existence of an exciplex complex (Trp 16 with Lys 120 and/or with bound molecules of water) in the protein native state. Heat-induced denaturation of pOBP resulted in significant red shifts of the fluorescence emission spectra: the value of the ratio (I(320)/I(365)) upon excitation at lambda(ex) = 297 nm (parameter A) decreases from 1.07 to 0.64 passing from 60 to 85 degrees C, and the calculated midpoint of transition was centered at 70 degrees C. Interestingly, even at higher temperature, the values of the parameter A both in the absence and in the presence of GdnHCl did not coincide. This suggests that a portion of the protein structure is still preserved upon the temperature-induced denaturation of the protein in the absence of GdnHCl. CD experiments performed on pOBP in the absence and in the presence of GdnHCl and at different temperatures were in agreement with the fluorescence results. In addition, the obtained experimental data were corroborated by the analysis of the 3D structure of pOBP which revealed the amino acid residues that contribute to the protein dynamics and stability. Finally, molecular dynamics simulation experiments pointed out the important role of ion pair interactions as well as the molecular motifs that are responsible for the high thermal stability of pOBP, and elucidated the reasons of the protein aggregation that occurred at high temperature.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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