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Methods Enzymol. 2009;455:95-125. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(08)04204-3.

Analysis of repeat-protein folding using nearest-neighbor statistical mechanical models.

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T. C. Jenkins Department of Biophysics, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


The linear "Ising" model, which has been around for nearly a century, treats the behavior of linear arrays of repetitive, interacting subunits. Linear "repeat-proteins" have only been described in the last decade or so, and their folding energies have only been characterized very recently. Owing to their repetitive structures, linear repeat-proteins are particularly well suited for analysis by the nearest-neighbor Ising formalism. After briefly describing the historical origins and applications of the Ising model to biopolymers, and introducing repeat protein structure, this chapter will focus on the application of the linear Ising model to repeat proteins. When applied to homopolymers, the model can be represented and applied in a fairly simplified form. When applied to heteropolymers, where differences in energies among individual subunits (i.e. repeats) must be included, some (but not all) of this simplicity is lost. Derivations of the linear Ising model for both homopolymer and heteropolymer repeat-proteins will be presented. With the increased complexity required for analysis of heteropolymeric repeat proteins, the ability to resolve different energy terms from experimental data can be compromised. Thus, a simple matrix approach will be developed to help inform on the degree to which different thermodynamic parameters can be extracted from a particular set of unfolding curves. Finally, we will describe the application of these models to analyze repeat-protein folding equilibria, focusing on simplified repeat proteins based on "consensus" sequence information.

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