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Biochemistry. 1990 Nov 20;29(46):10433-7.

Structural description of acid-denatured cytochrome c by hydrogen exchange and 2D NMR.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-6059.

Erratum in

  • Biochemistry 1991 Mar 19;30(11):2988.


Hydrogen exchange and two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance (2D NMR) techniques were used to characterize the structure of oxidized horse cytochrome c at acid pH and high ionic strength. Under these conditions, cytochrome c is known to assume a globular conformation (A state) with properties resembling those of the molten globule state described for other proteins. In order to measure the rate of hydrogen-deuterium exchange for individual backbone amide protons in the A state, samples of oxidized cytochrome c were incubated at 20 degrees C in D2O buffer (pD 2.2, 1.5 M NaCl) for time periods ranging from 2 min to 500 h. The exchange reaction was then quenched by transferring the protein to native conditions (pD 5.3). The extent of exchange for 44 amide protons trapped in the refolded protein was measured by 2D NMR spectroscopy. The results show that this approach can provide detailed information on H-bonded secondary and tertiary structure in partially folded equilibrium forms of a protein. All of the slowly exchanging amide protons in the three major helices of native cytochrome c are strongly protected from exchange at acid pH, indicating that the A state contains native-like elements of helical secondary structure. By contrast, a number of amide protons involved in irregular tertiary H-bonds of the native structure (Gly37, Arg38, Gln42, Ile57, Lys79, and Met80) are only marginally protected in the A state, indicating that these H-bonds are unstable or absent. The H-exchange results suggest that the major helices of cytochrome c and their common hydrophobic domain are largely preserved in the globular acidic form while the loop region of the native structure is flexible and partly disordered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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