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Nature. 1990 Mar 22;344(6264):363-4.

Reverse hydrophobic effects relieved by amino-acid substitutions at a protein surface.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


It is rare for amino-acid substitutions on the surface of proteins to have large stabilizing or destabilizing effects. Nevertheless, one substitution of this type, the Tyr 26----Cys mutation in lambda Cro, increases the melting temperature of the protein by 11 degrees C and the stability by 2.2 kcal mol-1. Here we show that the stability of Cro can be increased by many different amino-acid substitutions at position 26, with increasing stability showing a good correlation with decreasing side-chain hydrophobicity. As Tyr 26 is hyper-exposed to solvent in the Cro crystal structure, we suggest that wild-type and variant proteins with other hydrophobic side chains at position 26 are destabilized as a result of a reverse hydrophobic effect caused by the side chain being more exposed to solvent in the native than in the denatured state.

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