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Biochemistry. 2013 Jan 8;52(1):264-76. doi: 10.1021/bi301258e. Epub 2012 Dec 26.

pH regulation of the kinetic stability of the lipase from Thermomyces lanuginosus.

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Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre (iNANO), Center for Insoluble Protein Structures (inSPIN), Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Aarhus, Gustav Wieds Vej 14, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.


Thermomyces lanuginosus lipase (TlL) is a kinetically stable protein, resistant toward both denaturation and refolding in the presence of the ionic surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and the nonionic surfactant decyl maltoside (DecM). We investigate the pH dependence of this kinetic stability. At pH 8, TlL remains folded and enzymatically active at multimillimolar surfactant concentrations but fails to refold from the acid urea-denatured state at submillimolar concentrations of SDS and DecM, indicating a broad concentration range of kinetic trapping or hysteresis. At pH 8, very few SDS molecules bind to TlL. The hysteresis SDS concentration range shrinks when moving to pH 4-6; in this pH range, SDS binds as micellelike clusters. Although hysteresis can be eliminated by reducing disulfide bonds, destabilizing the native state, and lowering the unfolding activation barrier, SDS sensitivity is not directly linked to intrinsic kinetic stability [its resistance to the general chemical denaturant guanidinium chloride (GdmCl)], because TlL unfolds more slowly in GdmCl at pH 6.0 than at pH 8.0. However, the estimated net charge drops from approximately -12 to approximately -5 between pH 8 and 6. SDS denatures TlL at pH 6.0 by nucleating via a critical number of bound SDS molecules on the surface of native TlL to form clusters. These results imply that SDS sensitivity is connected to the availability of appropriately charged regions on the protein. We suggest that conformational rigidity is a necessary but not sufficient feature of SDS resistance, because this has to be combined with sufficient negative electrostatic potential to avoid extensive SDS binding.

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