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Protein Sci. 2009 Aug;18(8):1806-13. doi: 10.1002/pro.172.

Sequence determinants of thermodynamic stability in a WW domain--an all-beta-sheet protein.

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Department of Chemistry and the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The stabilities of 66 sequence variants of the human Pin1 WW domain have been determined by equilibrium thermal denaturation experiments. All 34 residues composing the hPin1 WW three-stranded beta-sheet structure could be replaced one at a time with at least one different natural or non-natural amino acid residue without leading to an unfolded protein. Alanine substitutions at only four positions within the hPin1 WW domain lead to a partially or completely unfolded protein-in the absence of a physiological ligand. The side chains of these four residues form a conserved, partially solvent-inaccessible, continuous hydrophobic minicore comprising the N- and C-termini. Ala mutations at five other residues, three of which constitute the ligand binding patch on the concave side of the beta-sheet, significantly destabilize the hPin1 WW domain without leading to an unfolded protein. The remaining mutations affect protein stability only slightly, suggesting that only a small subset of side chain interactions within the hPin1 WW domain are mandatory for acquiring and maintaining a stable, cooperatively folded beta-sheet structure.

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