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Biochem Cell Biol. 2010 Apr;88(2):371-81. doi: 10.1139/o09-180.

Electrostatics in the stability and misfolding of the prion protein: salt bridges, self energy, and solvation.

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Brain Research Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 2B5, Canada.


Using a recently developed mesoscopic theory of protein dielectrics, we have calculated the salt bridge energies, total residue electrostatic potential energies, and transfer energies into a low dielectric amyloid-like phase for 12 species and mutants of the prion protein. Salt bridges and self energies play key roles in stabilizing secondary and tertiary structural elements of the prion protein. The total electrostatic potential energy of each residue was found to be invariably stabilizing. Residues frequently found to be mutated in familial prion disease were among those with the largest electrostatic energies. The large barrier to charged group desolvation imposes regional constraints on involvement of the prion protein in an amyloid aggregate, resulting in an electrostatic amyloid recruitment profile that favours regions of sequence between alpha helix 1 and beta strand 2, the middles of helices 2 and 3, and the region N-terminal to alpha helix 1. We found that the stabilization due to salt bridges is minimal among the proteins studied for disease-susceptible human mutants of prion protein.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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