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Biophys J. 2011 Jan 5;100(1):154-64. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.11.027.

Investigating the refolding pathway of human acidic fibroblast growth factor (hFGF-1) from the residual structure(s) obtained by denatured-state hydrogen/deuterium exchange.

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Department of Chemistry, National Tsing-Hua University, Hsin-Chu, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Human fibroblast growth factor 1 (hFGF-1) consists of 12 anti-parallel β-strands arranged into a β-trefoil architecture. We directly measured hydrogen/deuterium exchange rates on the urea-denatured hFGF-1 to obtain the information with regard to the persistent residual interaction(s) in the unfolded hFGF-1. Thirty-eight residues whose heteronuclear single quantum coherence cross-peaks can be observed after exchange show higher protections than those predicted for the same residues in a random coil conformation, suggesting the existence of residual structure(s). The urea-denaturation of hFGF-1 tested by both circular dichroism and fluorescence spectroscopy indicated that the unfolding process is a cooperative two-state process and that the residual structures observed did not originate from the existence of a partially structured intermediate. The coincident disappearance of the native heteronuclear single quantum coherence cross-peaks during the urea-denaturation process suggests that the residual structures observed contain no nativelike interactions. The protected residues (fold ons) in the urea-denatured state are mostly those that exchange slowly in the native state H/D exchange. The distribution of these fold ons in the native structure of hFGF-1 suggests that the refolding starts by collisions between the residual structures (microdomains) between the β-strands VI and VII, and between the β-strands II and III, which appear to be two independent refolding coordinates during the refolding process.

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