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Biochemistry. 1990 Oct 9;29(40):9343-52.

Estimating the contribution of engineered surface electrostatic interactions to protein stability by using double-mutant cycles.

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MRC Unit for Protein Function and Design, University Chemical Laboratory, Cambridge, U.K.


Coulombic interactions between charges on the surface of proteins contribute to stability. It is difficult, however, to estimate their importance by protein engineering methods because mutation of one residue in an ion pair alters the energetics of many interactions in addition to the coulombic energy between the two components. We have estimated the interaction energy between two charged residues, Asp-12 and Arg-16, in an alpha-helix on the surface of a barnase mutant by invoking a double-mutant cycle involving wild-type enzyme (Asp-12, Thr-16), the single mutants Thr----Arg-16 and Asp----Ala-12, and the double mutant Asp----Ala-12, Thr----Arg-16. The changes in free energy of unfolding of the single mutants are not additive because of the coulombic interaction energy. Additivity is restored at high concentrations of salt that shield electrostatic interactions. The geometry of the ion pair in the mutant was assumed to be the same as that in the highly homologous ribonuclease from Bacillus intermedius, binase, which has Asp-12 and Arg-16 in the native enzyme. The ion pair does not form a hydrogen-bonded salt bridge, but the charges are separated by 5-6 A. The mutant barnase containing the ion pair Asp-12/Arg-16 is more stable than wild type by 0.5 kcal/mol, but only a part of the increased stability is attributable to the electrostatic interaction. We present a formal analysis of how double-mutant cycles can be used to measure the energetics of pairwise interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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